Are You Earning Loyalty or Demanding Loyalty from Younger Workers?



Managers across the business landscape are seeing a new side to corporate loyalty. Gone are the days of fresh faced employees hoping someday to get that clichéd gold watch after decades of service.[1] A new perspective of employees looking out for themselves and letting the company worry about the company is more commonplace. Loyalty to a faceless entity is no longer seen as the logical choice for the new breed of employee. They’ve seen companies demand loyalty from their parents, grandparents and family members only to lay them off after 10, 15 or more years of dedicated service, leaving them scrambling to provide for their families. They witnessed layoffs in the late 80’s, the dot-com bubble pop in the 90’s and the most recent financial crisis enforces their beliefs that corporations are looking out for their own best interests (both justly and unjustly), not necessarily those of their employees.


The image of corporate loyalty in the past was that of a one way street. You gave to the company and in return they provided you long-term stability. Many saw an employee leaving like many sports fans look at free agency.[2] If a team lets a player go for financial reasons or the player is past their prime, it’s good sound business. If the athlete leaves for another team thanks to a better contract, they are seen as greedy. That opinion is no longer prevalent in today’s business environment where people hop from short-term job to short-term job.  


That doesn’t mean loyalty is an endangered species. It’s simply evolved into something much more personal.


Many workers, especially the newer and younger generation of employees, are not going to be very loyal to the organization. Instead, they will be much more loyal to individuals. They are loyal to friends and family, which is a given. But they will also be loyal to their managers and their co-workers. More so than some suit from another department they have never met and have no relationship with. The key to maintaining and fostering long term “company” loyalty is one-on-one relationships between an employee and their direct supervisor.


The question remains: What can you do to instill loyalty into a person more concerned with their wellbeing than that of the company?

1. Treat them as colleagues, not underlings. Younger workers are very present minded. They want immediate results and to be treated like a seasoned veteran. Even on day one. They have also been elevated in the family to equal status. No longer do they just do what parents tell them to “because I said so.” Growing up, they were asked their opinions on family matters and included in major decisions. This status of being someone who has a say, regardless of their position, should be mirrored in their workplace or they will go someplace else where their opinions matter.[3] Ask them what they think. Even if you don’t really care, take the time to get them involved. It only takes a few moments to make someone feel like a co-worker –versus the precious time and money it takes to train a replacement.  

2. Seduce them with status. Is your company or department, the “sexy” one?[4] My point is that younger workers want to be somewhere that has a name. They want a job or to work for a company that, when described to others, people nod and say, “That is SOOO cool.” How can you show your company as “sexy”? Are you the best at what you do? Or do you work with the latest, greatest technology? You want these workers to be excited to tell everyone  what they do, even if the reality may be otherwise. You can “sexy” up things with exciting clients, interesting projects or occasion interesting perks. I recently spoke to the Defense Information School instructors, where they train Public Affairs and Visual Information personnel to be reporters, camera operators, webmasters and other cool things. To them, it may seem interesting but not very sexy. But to a new recruit, they get to play with technology, learn to be on camera, and are immersed in all kinds of multimedia. They’re in geek heaven![5] It is extremely sexy. These instructors need to remind their trainees, as well as themselves, occasionally on just how cool their job is. You forget when you’re doing it day after day, but you should remind them from time to time. Let them know that working with you is “cool and sexy” and they will stick around.

3. Treat them as individuals, not mindless drones. Now we get to the touchy, feely part.[6] Younger workers like to stand out. They like to know their individual efforts are a direct benefit to the organization. Do you prove to them that they are not just another worker? Talk to them about their individual goals. Explain how the company can help achieve those goals. If you show that you care about them and how they fit into the company, they will work hard to achieve the goals you’ve both laid out. You can find out many of these goals during the hiring process. Why hire someone whose goals don’t match or fit with the company’s? You’re just asking for them to be miserable and to someday leave. Someday soon.

The key to keeping any employee in these current times is to be someone worth following. It starts with getting good managers, who can balance the objectives of the organization with the desires of the employees. Young workers know that working at any company is just a stepping stone to something else-make your organization their ‘something else’.

As a company or organization you need to ask yourself “Do we have the next stone they are looking to step on? Or are we the water they are trying to avoid falling into?”


Craig Price has helped thousands of people learn to find adapt to the new workplace.  His keynote and companion workshop “The Xs and Os of the New Workforce” gets audiences to face the truth and dispel myths of the younger culture entering the business world.


If you are interested in having Craig present at your next conference, association meeting or corporate event please call 877-572-7890 or email today to ask about pricing and availability



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