For the last five years, I’ve worked in recruiting, (a career, I admittedly fell into instead of actually pursuing but that is another story for another time) both in the agency and corporate worlds. My experience in recruiting has also connected me to the often seedy (yes, I said it) world of human resources.
When it comes to recruiting and human resources (two sides of the same coin), as a professional recruiter, I can honestly say that the hiring process is a broken process. For one, the applicant tracking software requires you to upload a resume and then painstakingly re-enter the same information on another page. All this effort often leads to never receiving a response. Then, there are the recruiters who purse candidates only to ghost them. Lastly, there’s the HR manager who shamelessly put the business needs over the employees’ needs– the ones who keep the said business afloat. It’s a very messy world where no one who enters leaves unscathed.
I could go on, but I am not here to make you cry. Yes, the hiring process is broken but my biggest gripe as a recruiter is with hiring managers and by extension, companies’ expectations of employee loyalty.
This expectation manifests in several ways. From a recruiter's perspective, I’ve often had hiring managers discourage me from talking with employees who have a history of “job-hopping” or have less than a “required” number of years at a job. Never mind the fact that employees leave companies for all sort of reasons (I myself left a job after the relationship with my manager went sour) or the fact that job-hopping itself isn’t indicative of an employee’s ability to perform in a job nor a reflection of their loyalty to a prospective employer.
Employers and employees both need to evolve their thinking when it comes to their work relationships. Employers must understand that employees give as good as they get and employees must learn the importance of centering themselves in their careers and not feel like they are doing something wrong when they explore opportunities outside of their current jobs.
My motto, “always have one foot out the door at all times!”
During my time in recruiting and human resources, I witnessed employees being laid off despite their years of service just to save operating costs while the CEO’ pockets millions. Not to mention the stress that comes from working for an ‘at will’ employer, a legal practice which essentially means you can be let go for any reason at the employers' discretion so long as the reasons aren’t illegal. These days, no job is safe. That is the sad reality of the American workforce. Like it or not.
When it comes to this, employers often just shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, well it’s just business!”
Well fine! I totally understand that a business is a business. I’m capable of seeing the grey areas when it comes to employee/employer relationships, which is why I propose employees keep this same mentality when it comes to employers.
Over the years, I’ve developed a “business first” approach to my relationships with employers. This means that as an employee, I will go above and beyond for my work. However, I always reserve the right to center myself and to make decisions that benefit me, first.
This has been especially case this year with the impact of the pandemic has served as a wake-up call for many people.
To say this even simpler, my loyalty goes only as far as to what my employer can do for me. If my employer can’t or won’t deliver for any reason, I walk away, without guilt or shame.
Just as employers must do what they feel is best for the business, even at the expense of their employees, so must employees do what is best for them at the expense of their employers. So, if this means quitting a job after a few months either because it wasn’t a good fit or because you found something better, then so be it.
Employers must understand loyalty can’t be demanded, enforced, or threaten, nor can loyalty be determined by the number of years of service. Loyalty is action, a two-way street, and a relationship built on trust that benefits both parties involved.
Until more employers get with the program, expect your employees to remain disloyal.