DEV Community

Discussion on: How much loyalty do you owe your employer?

Collapse
kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited on

None. I say that as someone who feels connected to the people in my company. And especially to my team.

Loyalty is something that you can have for a person. Extended to a group, loyalty is most closely associated with family. Companies usually aren't families and typically are not created in order to form one. They are machines designed to generate something -- usually profit. For non-profits, perhaps a community benefit.

You can also say that loyalty could be an alignment of principle or philosophy. Companies may have a purpose statement that you agree with, but often I find they are really aspirations, and may not reflect reality. The timbre of companies also change with the leadership. It is actually a very interesting and mostly unaccomplished design challenge: how do you build a company that keeps the same "spirit" even though leadership changes?

You can also examine it as a matter of reciprocity. Does the company have loyalty to you? How does the company handle economic booms and busts? Do they hire people in boom and lay them off in bust? This makes tons of business sense to do. But it also implicitly views people as work units and precludes family-style loyalty. This is not a value judgement of the company -- it is a machine performing its intended purpose.

The sum of it is: companies are looking out for their own best interest, not yours. (And even then, an unscrupulous leader will look out for their personal best interest, not even that of the company.) Don't get fooled by middle managers trying to sell you on the idea of company loyalty. If it comes down to the company losing money or firing you, they will probably fire you.

Your employment is a business transaction -- they pay you and you provide labor. They typically hold most of the influence in setting up the transaction, so it is your responsibility to make sure you are getting what you need from it. Be that pay, working with supportive people, learning or advancement opportunities, etc. And (in my state at least) it is either party's prerogative to terminate the transaction if/when it no longer works for them.

Collapse
madebygps profile image
Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza Author

Thank you for this detailed reply. I enjoyed your insight and will be using it to think about my own answer.

Collapse
stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee • Edited on

Just a few things I'd like to add here:

  • blood !== family. I have many friends I consider closer family than blood relatives, many of whom I've never even met IRL.
  • True boss self-interest need not (and shouldn't) be at odds with company self-interest and employee self-interest.
  • All relationships (love, business, etc.) should be mutually beneficial, with each party free to walk away when they're not, and addressing the iniquity doesn't restore that mutually beneficial state.
Collapse
kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

If I could nuance what you are saying, it doesn't quite feel right to paint the employer-employee relationship with the same brush as with my cousin for example. But in general, yes every relationship has its breaking point. Especially when one of the people is taking advantage and not trying.

I feel like many employers default to expecting the employee to do all the trying in the relationship. I have experienced that before anyway. It seems a predisposition because they hold most of the cards. So I guess point being I tend to look with a little more skepticism at the particular business relationship that is employer-to-employee. I'm more optimistic with person-to-person... that there can be a virtuous cycle of kindness begetting kindness as opposed to mutually-beneficial score-keeping.

Thread Thread
stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee • Edited on

I'm more interested in how things should be (and saying/doing something about it). You're right in that it often is treated as "I hold all the cards" but... Do they?

As for the selfish nature (and I say that without any negative connotation whatsoever) of interpersonal interactions of any sort, it's not about scorekeeping.

That's a terrible approach (and quite frankly the one a lot of - I daresay most - self-proclaimed "selfless" people take), and one in which very little is actually exchanged as people grow wise to its parasitic, duty-bound, guilt-ridden nature.

Done right, it's a recognition that to have your needs and expectations met by others, you have to be willing and able to meet theirs. That whether it's respect, loyalty, performance, love, or anything else worthwhile in life, it has to be earned (and should be expected when you've earned it) and that nobody should feel any obligation to give to another what they're not willing to earn.

The cheating partner has no reason to expect their partner's continued fidelity. The abusive parent has no reason to expect their child's love. The cheapskate boss has no reason to expect an underpaid employee to give them their best work or stick around at all. The lazy employee has no reason to expect continued employment. And so on.

Thread Thread
stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee • Edited on

And FWIW I've absolutely had bosses I love like family. I still call one of them "Boss" to this day, well over a decade after we worked together, because she always sought to make the working relationship mutually beneficial, and knew that developing the best in me was in her own interest even if I someday became her boss.

As I alluded to above, she earned both my respect and my (non-romantic) love.

Collapse
dmfay profile image
Dian Fay

Beautifully said!