Why loyalty now means more at work – and how to get it

- September 14, 2023 3 MIN READ


Loyalty is the fly-under-the-radar virtue and is frequently usurped for its more glamourous comrades like generosity, fairness, or the new kid on the block – resilience. Whilst all great qualities with deserved standing, they don’t come close to the laurels of loyalty, explains employment expert Roxanne Calder.

Loyalty is your best buddy from school – the formative years of bonded friendship, with an unbreakable alliance. Through thick and thin, that’s loyalty’s coveted prize.

But in the plentiful good times, who needs loyalty? With abundance, we have options. With options, we have a choice and no need for the tried and tested or the reliance upon anyone or anything. Easy come, easy go, it’s transactional. A shame for poor loyalty, abandoned for the latest anything; goods, services and even friends, I mean ‘likes’. They are interchangeable, aren’t they?

Not so much. Under pressure, transactional relationships fail the humanity test. Loyalty, on the other hand, stays tried and true. It is frequently underappreciated until you need it. No longer the disregarded virtue; loyalty means more to us now.

The baby boomers were onto something

Attributed largely to post-war societal breakdowns, disarray and confusion, loyalty in all its forms; to each other, the company they worked for, and the country was more widely adopted by our boomer generation. As for employment, boomers were the most loyal and rewarded with the highest job satisfaction. They held firm to what was important: family, security, and rebuilding communities.

Our loyalty cry out

Post-pandemic and, we share similarities. We needed it. The shock of our world being inverted, reverted, flipped and tossed. Everything we knew was turned on its head. Confused and vulnerable, we reached out for genuine connections and meaning. Loyalty came into our work world in ways we hadn’t felt before. We got a taste for it, what it felt like to belong and the psychological attachment.

The appreciation was real, the connection authentic, and we reciprocated. Actions spoke loudly, 49% of employees who felt their workplace dealt with the pandemic well wanted to remain for working for the same employer for more than 10 years. And it continues, with those in their current job between 1 and 4 years rising to 35 per cent, up from 34 per cent in 2022.

More of that please

Your business needs it. Loyalty is good for everyone, but exceptional for business. Employee loyalty creates economic value, a competitive edge and has a significant positive and sometimes very sizeable impact on financial performance and operational excellence.

Any staff turnover is expensive, as is the cost of an empty seat. With close to full employment rates and the agonising relentless search for talent, employee loyalty makes financial, emotional, and fiduciary sense. You owe it to your shareholders, customers, existing employees, and your own mental well-being.

But, it’s not easy. The dichotomy of the deep human need to be backed, believed in and supported, and our search for freedom. This is today’s workforce- we are convinced we can do more ourselves and our way, yet we need each other. We are humans, after all! Autonomy doesn’t mean the abandonment of loyalty. That’s just our mind’s script and an illusion. The two can co-exist, and it’s up to business leaders to find the way.

Still in tough times

The stagnant presence of the pandemic remains, and we are dealing with its fallout daily. From the macro of economic uncertainty, the geo-political mess, and political upheavals to our micro, soaring costs of living, continued health concerns, and more.  If you are concerned about emotional, physical, and mental well-being, loyalty helps to build that support. Even with optimism (by the way, you can thank loyalty for that!), by our side, the tough times are still here. To get through, professionally or personally, loyalty as your virtue must remain.

Loyalty is our cocoon of security, support, trust, and warmth. It transcends boundaries, obstacles and barriers, opening up the relationship door of certitude and unbreakable alliances. Perhaps we can only truly appreciate the worth of loyalty by its absence. The echoing silence of doing it alone. The pandemic showed us this, bringing to the forefront the fragility of life and our precious relationships in a monumental, unforgettable, and even unforgivable way.

For our continued human evolution, loyalty is vital and even more so if we want to keep building an ethical and supportive society. It teaches us to be noble in pursuing genuine relationships, from family and work to society. This time, as we emerge from our own disruptive era, let’s keep a tight and grateful hold of loyalty.

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