For Loyalty’s Sake

By Chelsea Elkins, Simple Intentions Marketing Manager

millennialLet me start by saying that I am by no means the voice of the millennial generation.

Let me also say that the word “millennial” deeply irks me (understandably so). I believe that we, as a global community, often get into trouble when we classify every individual from a certain group or demographic as being a certain way. People are just people, after all.

However, my colleagues here at Simple Intentions have repeatedly expressed interest in a post from a “millennial viewpoint,” so I’ll do my best to oblige. Here’s the take of one millennial in this very vast world on the specific topic of loyalty in the workplace.

The “loyalty challenge” came up in the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Many employers are facing higher rates of attrition with their millennial employees, and some young workers were polled as having “one foot out the door.”

Though there are many factors unique to the millennial generation that could be contributing to a shorter job life span, I believe the loyalty challenge mostly stems from deeply embedded values that are either not being met or not being communicated.

A lot of “millennial values” in the workplace are things that people of any age typically value (livable income, company integrity, purpose, a place to utilize their skills). The key difference seems to be that (more) millennials are quicker to look for a job change if they feel they are having to sacrifice their values at work. Indeed, one of the biggest values that is continuously threatened for many is work-life balance, and as a result some feel they have to go to extremes to get it back.

This is one big reason why there is more lateral movement among millennials than in past generations. Instead of taking the traditional route of climbing the corporate ladder, millennials are more willing to laterally move or jump to a similar role at a new company, if they feel that culture better aligns with their values.

For the sizable chunk of millennials who have stayed at the same organization since undergrad, climbing to higher roles and becoming leaders in their companies, I would guess that many of them have found (or founded) an organization that is in synch with their core beliefs. They are therefore able to invest in their work each day without feeling that they are violating any part of their being.

In response to the question of loyalty, it seems that, for many millennials, honoring their values is simply the higher priority. Not to mention that loyalty for loyalty’s sake strips much of the integrity from the trait. Though this may be a frustrating explanation for the time and cost associated with employee turnover, I believe this scenario is actually a rare case of positive attrition. If an employee feels they are sacrificing their values day in and day out, it is, from my own experience, very difficult to be productive and successful in that role. Long-term, the company will operate better and be more lucrative when staffed with people who are in synch with the company’s priorities and values.

I’m sure many will continue to shake their heads at the millennial loyalty challenge. In these instances, it may be helpful to imagine a world where everyone works in a place that mirrors and even strengthens their unique set of beliefs and core values. May I be so bold as to say that we might be better off in a place like that.

Personally, I was taught from a young age to live my values and to never compromise that part of myself. And I have taken that to heart – and to the workplace.

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