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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Loyalty, Honor and Integrity

In my research, I have come across many complaints about the lack of loyalty in employees. This lack of loyalty is cited as a factor in the increased costs to businesses of hiring and training new employees. Due to this, many employers are today requiring a Bachelors degree or higher and/or three to five years work experience in hopes of limiting the amount of training they must do with a new employee.

The net effects of such educational requirements effectively shuts out a majority of newly educated or non-degreed employees who might otherwise be fully qualified to do the job. It has long been acknowledged that many potential employees who have a degree may or may not be ready for the job, being book-smart but not world-smart. It is also acknowledged by many that the lack of a degree does not necessarily mean the potential employee doesn't already have the skills for the job. Add to this the fact that most employers expect these highly educated/skilled employees to begin at the lowest pay rates in the company and one quickly begins seeing employee loyalty being undermined. Why should the employee show loyalty to a company that is disrespecting their skills, education and experience by not paying them livable wages?

For example, a new employee earning $8 an hour would have to work 40 hours normal time, plus 40 hours overtime, just to earn $40,000 a year, slightly over the amount the Colorado State government cites as being necessary for an acceptable quality of life here. This is based on a 2000 hour work year assuming 50 work weeks at 40 hours per week with two weeks unpaid vacation. The majority American workers do not get that many hours and many never qualify for the vacation time. As is my custom, let us turn to the words of our ancestors.

A wealthy landowner cannot cultivate and improve his farm without spreading comfort and well-being around him. Rich and abundant crops, a numerous population and a prosperous countryside are the rewards for his efforts.
Antoine Lavoisier

Rule #1 - Employers who expect loyal and skilled workers must be willing to pay a fair wage for them.

Another area of loyalty undermining is the practice of arbitrary and discriminatory promotion and firings. How many times have we heard of an employee getting promoted not based on skill or experience, but on currying favor by taking undue credit for themselves? Or a highly skilled employee getting passed over for promotion or even fired over getting sick and not being able to work for a short time? Or a seasoned, skilled woman getting overlooked for a management position because of her gender or age? Or a loyal white male employee who is highly qualified getting passed over because the company must show themselves diversified by promoting a less qualified woman or minority.

Throw in employers outsourcing good paying jobs to third world countries and laying off thousands of American workers and I think you get the point. Loyalty earns loyalty.

Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.
Zora Neale

Rule #2 - Employers who expect loyal and skilled workers must treat them fairly and reward their hard work and loyalty.

I read an article recently about a Japanese technology development company. Employees were encouraged to take naps when they needed them and to take activity breaks throughout the day. They must have been doing something right because they had a third the amount of employee sick days as we have in America and about twice the productivity. I'll let you read into that what you will.

Here in America we balk at being required by law to give our employees a couple fifteen minute breaks and a half-hour for lunch each day. Forget about naps, we'll just fire them if they make mistakes due to fatigue. God forbid an employee plays solitaire on our computers, even if it is during their fifteen minute break.

The companies that are more flexible on such issues laud the increase in productivity and profitability, yet most companies still don't get it.

Pleasure in the job put perfection in the work.

Rule #3 - Employers who expect loyal and skilled workers must never patronize nor underestimate the abilities or willingness of their employees.

In summary, if American corporate society wants American workers to be more loyal, they must be more loyal and respectful to the employees. When we ignore the needs of our workers, disloyalty and betrayal are the least of our worries.

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