If you Google ‘is employment loyalty dead?’ you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘yes, it is’. But is that really the case? Or does employee loyalty just look different now, and it’s you who needs to rethink your view of it?
What is (was) employee loyalty?
First, let’s talk about the traditional corporate view of employee loyalty.
Loyalty used to mean that in return for being hired and trusted to do a new job, a grateful employee would work hard for you. So, loyalty was an exchange of an individual’s time, effort and commitment for the surety of a company paycheck and a position.
But that was then. This is now.
In Lee Caraher’s book The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from Your Employees, she says that loyalty now means an employee leaving their job when they are no longer motivated, engaged, productive or happy.
While this might sound like a dead-end definition for the business (after all, loyalty is supposed to make employees want to stay with you for longer, right?), it instead recognises the value of that Millennial trait of job-hopping in search of happiness and fulfilment.
It leverages modern-day staff churn to build a “lifetime of loyalty from former employees,” which sees them “return in the form of customers, partners, clients, advocates, contractors, and even returning employees.”
The new boomerang loyalty
The new definition of loyalty takes a much bigger picture approach and reflects a two-way relationship. If an employee considers they came, worked, successfully conquered, and a new challenge now beckons, why wouldn’t they move on? If the employer-employee fit is not right, should a worker stay only because it looks better on their CV? In each case, the answer is no.
The new perception of loyalty is that it’s not bound by the time spent working for a business, but how an employee feels – and speaks and supports – your business once they’ve left your employ.
Why are ex-employees so good for business?
Ex-employees are the new generation of unpaid advocates for your business. Based on a mutually respectful parting of ways (and this is why good offboarding processes are so important), leavers will encourage their friends to apply for jobs with you, engage with and endorse you on social media platforms, and more. So they are worth their weight in gold to the business even once they are no longer employees.
And if they do bounce back (like a boomerang), returning employees often develop and share new and valuable skills from the experiences they’ve encountered outside of your business. And they also bring to the workforce fresh perspectives that can be mutually beneficial.
So in effect, today’s loyalty just goes well above and beyond a period where you and an employee exchanged their time for money. It’s more enduring, and way more valuable.