Eternal loyalty towards the company?

We are con­front­ed with a new re­al­i­ty which we can­not avoid – ever short­er em­ploy­ment re­la­tion­ships. What should we do? En­gage in strate­gic and long-term think­ing, be­cause a fun­da­men­tal change of val­ues takes time.

A ca­reer where, for ex­am­ple, you do an ap­pren­tice­ship at SBB, work there for a while, at some point get pro­mot­ed and even­tu­al­ly re­tire is a rar­i­ty to­day. As a glob­al av­er­age, em­ploy­ees stay with the same em­ploy­er for ap­prox­i­mate­ly four and half years be­fore mov­ing on. For mem­bers of gen­er­a­tion Y the fig­ure is around half of that. Ger­man Ramirez, who re­cent­ly held an in­ter­est­ing talk on the sub­ject of em­ploy­er brand­ing 2.0 and dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, sees the rea­sons for this in the so-called “crazy in­gs”, i.e. out­sourc­ing, down­siz­ing, re­struc­tur­ing, off­shoring, which are re­spon­si­ble for the end of a par­a­digm – the work­place for life.

Loy­al­ty in both di­rec­tions

From the employee’s point of view it’s a sim­ple cal­cu­la­tion: “If the com­pa­ny isn’t loy­al to me, I won’t be loy­al to it.” Full stop. This at­ti­tude has be­come en­trenched among em­ploy­ees. Loy­al­ty to­wards a com­pa­ny is no longer the top pri­or­i­ty, peo­ple are more flex­i­ble and ori­ent­ed to­wards tasks rather than com­pa­nies. Com­pa­nies there­fore risk los­ing key em­ploy­ees. This ap­plies first and fore­most for the tal­ent of the fu­ture. In or­der to hold on to them, fun­da­men­tal changes in the cor­po­rate cul­ture are re­quired.

Cater­pil­lar wings

How­ev­er, changes in the cul­ture are not easy to achieve. Far-reach­ing ad­just­ments are re­quired. A ta­ble foot­ball game is not enough, any more than a cou­ple of coloured cush­ions in the cor­ner near the break room. These things are cos­met­ic, al­most as if you were to stick wings to a cater­pil­lar to turn it in­to a but­ter­fly. We all know that more than a cou­ple of wings are re­quired to turn a cater­pil­lar in­to a but­ter­fly. This metaphor – which by the way I al­so got from Ger­man – can be di­rect­ly ap­plied to a change in cor­po­rate cul­ture.

For­ward ever, back­wards nev­er

In the study of his­to­ry, the term “wa­ter­shed” is used to re­fer to the end of one era and the be­gin­ning of a new one, a di­vid­ing line which of course can on­ly be pre­cise­ly es­tab­lished in ret­ro­spect. Nev­er­the­less, it isn’t dif­fi­cult to see that a change is oc­cur­ring. It man­i­fests it­self in­creas­ing­ly clear­ly. The new re­al­i­ty lies be­fore us and the road to­wards it is di­rect. It goes for­wards and turn­ing back is not an op­tion. For a com­pa­ny which wants to con­tin­ue to be suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture, there is ac­tu­al­ly on­ly one pos­si­bil­i­ty, that of trans­for­ma­tion.

Picture: Mantas Hesthaven CC0

Published 29.03.2017 © Brandsoul AG


  • Eveline van der Schaaff

    How to achieve this du­ly not­ed re­quired fun­da­men­tal change in val­ues? This goes be­yond a change in em­ploy­ee-em­ploy­er re­la­tion­ship and re­quires so­cial-eco­nom­ic and even in­sti­tu­tion­al change as our cur­rent so­ci­etal mod­el won’t func­tion. Whose val­ues need change? 

    Let’s stick with em­ploy­ee mo­ti­va­tion and op­ti­mal use of Hu­man Re­sources in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. While the em­ploy­er needs flex­i­bil­i­ty and ded­i­cat­ed, skilled work­ers, the em­ploy­ee needs to se­cure a cer­tain lev­el of in­come, a chal­lenge and may be in­ter­est­ed in flex­i­bil­i­ty. To sat­is­fy both needs a cre­ative, out-of-the-box so­lu­tion is required…What trans­for­ma­tion do you sug­gest? We can see that the cur­rent trend of in­de­pen­dent consultants/ self em­ployed is lead­ing to im­pov­er­ish­ment and a so­cial bur­den.

    Maybe a cross sec­tor tal­ent pool with a guar­an­teed min­i­mum in­come and so­cial se­cu­ri­ty might be an idea? Guar­an­teed by par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies.


    • Mauro Werlen Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts, Eve­line.

      In­deed, this goes be­yond a change in em­ploy­ee-em­ploy­er re­la­tion­ship. Still, that re­la­tion­ship needs to be fos­tered: Em­ploy­ees should be more in­volved, so the emo­tion­al en­gage­ment is high­er. At the same time we need to low­er bound­aries be­tween em­ploy­ee and em­ploy­ers, in or­der to en­cour­age en­tre­pre­neur­ial be­hav­iour with­in the com­pa­ny struc­tures. This way we can cre­ate a safe en­vi­ron­ment for in­de­pen­dent and en­tre­pre­neur­ial ini­tia­tives with­out the risks of be­ing ful­ly self-em­ployed. As you put it cor­rect­ly, un­em­ploy­ment and so­cial stress are pos­si­ble side ef­fects of such an en­deav­our. A work en­vi­ron­ment that of­fers both free­dom and a safe­ty net could be a so­lu­tion. Emo­tion­al en­gage­ment would cer­tain­ly be high­er and with that an in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion to do things and ac­ti­vate peo­ple at the work place. Even­tu­al­ly, this can lead to sat­is­fied needs and there­fore more loy­al­ty to­wards the work en­vi­ron­ment: the com­pa­ny that is ready to trans­form this way.


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Mauro Werlen


Talks with his hands, uses images in his mind to structure the world around him.

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