Updated: Jul 24, 2021
Sometimes dragons need to be slain
You hear it at almost every job interview. There's that one question regarding your loyalty. Usually it comes up if you've had a string of different jobs or are an independent consultant inquiring about a permanent role. Companies still demand that you unquestionably devote 100% of yourself to them but why?
First let's start with the basics the definition of loyal is:
unswerving in allegiance: such as
a: faithful in allegiance to one's lawful sovereign or government
b: faithful to a private person to whom faithfulness is due
c: faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product
Now let's apply that to the America's workforce in 2019 now aptly named the "gig economy." You see the gig economy being more of an opportunistic way of life is the opposite of loyalty so why do employers still focus on this trait? It goes back a long ways from kings demanding sacrifices from their knights to the industrial revolution to the roaring 50s where new startups needed loyal employees to keep afloat through the initial tough times. Somewhere down the line this just became a way of life for every employee. Businesses just expected loyalty from the get go & we, the people, accepted it.
Then, the recession hit, at which point in the relationship between employer & employee one side threw loyalty out the window. The outsourcing epidemic & the complete elimination of jobs began as companies strove to make it into the black. Jobs that weren't completely eliminated were combined into one (which has become standard practice in IT) with employers to this day doing mental gymnastics to somehow justify how combining 2-4 forty hour a week full-time jobs somehow is still only 40 hours of work for one person (it isn't, it just increases stress & puts that employee into a never-ending cycle of being behind on their work.)
From these events the "gig economy" blossomed as a way for displaced workers to make ends meet. The idea was simple, gone are the 40 hour/week, 9 to 5 jobs. Instead people work when they want, how they want & get paid almost immediately for the job. It's pretty much contractor work except on a more micro level. Lets also take time to acknowledge the disrespect shown to potential employees who've gone into independent consulting when employers completely ignore or scoff at consulting work listed on resumes (note to employers: you're the one that looks bad in that situation as your ignorance will cause your to miss out on great employees.)
They know loyalty comes with having a positive, excellent work environment.
So why do companies still demand loyalty if they themselves weren't loyal to their employees & in-turn gave birth to the "gig economy" they hate so much? The answer could be simpler than we imagine. After thousands of years of demanding loyalty, it's hard to change that behavior. It also doesn't help that a lot of these companies as well as those in management are stone dragons that were born & bred in that hypocritical culture.
As an exercise in how that logic is flawed imagine you're a manager of an IT developer department & Elon Musk applied for a developer position. Are you going to question Elon Musk's loyalty & whether he can do the job at hand simply because he runs his own company? You'd be ridiculous to even bring it up. Truth is a lot of upper management & executives participate on multiple boards, own their own businesses, etc. outside of the main company they're known for. It shouldn't be a question of loyalty, but whether that person is good at time management. Even then, millions of people work multiple jobs successfully every day so even asking about time management becomes irrelevant at some point. Would you really want to blow a chance at working with Elon Musk simply because his "loyalty" raises questions?
Don't get me wrong, loyalty in itself isn't a bad trait it's blind loyalty that tends to be negative & asking for that from the very start when you yourself haven't proven to be something worthy of loyalty is where things go south. There are times when loyalty is crucial (like during a company's startup period as stated previously,) but once that startup company becomes a multi-million dollar operation that should be able to pay their employees a decent wage as well as offer many other benefits then it's on the employer to give employees something to be loyal to. When was the last time you heard of a company restructuring it's pay shortly after a few years of sustained success? After all, an employee should be interviewing a company just as much as the company is interviewing them.
From my experience personally dealing with the tech giants of the world (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) it has been very telling. I've been approached several times by each of them, interviewed, flown out to their offices, had a chance to work on projects with their engineers, etc. & they all have the same ideals. They don't care about your loyalty or other commitments as they get it. They know loyalty comes with having a positive, excellent work environment.
When these companies approach you they don't question you, they ask what they themselves can provide in-order to bring you on-board (whether that be salary, training, environment or a specific type of co-worker.) These companies don't care if you're under-qualified, what your past jobs were, or if you run your own company, they only want to know who you are at the moment & are confident they can mold you into who they want you to be. They're global leaders for a reason. Their job descriptions & openings intentionally dictate what students will be studying so whether it be 2, 5, or 10 years down the line they'll be ready to take them in. So when I see lesser companies still holding onto such irrelevant, archaic ideas I can't help, but laugh.
So how about we stop demanding loyalty from the beginning & focus on creating an environment that fosters that loyalty & commitment? Once hands are shaken & prices are greed upon then it's expected the person will do the job they were hired to do, loyalty & to a degree time management shouldn't be apart of that equation. What the gig economy helped us realize is not just that companies don't have your back no matter how much you've sacrificed for them, but that people have lives...lives that they never knew they had nor wanted until they had the freedom to live them.