Employment – A simple contract between an employer and an employee. The employee agrees to perform some set of activities and in return the employer agrees to compensate them for doing so. Sounds pretty simple . . . right? That’s because we haven’t considered the dynamics generated by job security, an employee’s desires, and the loyalty the employer seeks. What it really comes down to is that neither party wants to be caught off guard by the other if the contract is abolished. It’s fine if it ends on their terms, but they definitely do not want to be surprised.
When it’s played out daily in the work environment, employers believe that because they give employees a job they should be loyal and not leave. If an employee tries to leave or actually does so, employers judge them as ungrateful and uncommitted. On the other hand, employees believe that because they trust their employers they should not have to worry about job security. If for some reason they are “let go” they think that their trust was violated.
In either case, the biggest problem with these situations is not with the employee who is willingly leaving or let go, it is the relationship of the employer with the employees who remain in the organization. These relationships often get stressed resulting in “us vs. them”, manager vs. worker friction.
What we have here at the core is a clear case of unhealthy expectations. One party is seeking safety by attempting to remove choice from the other. Instead of taking responsibility and putting in the effort to influence the other party’s choice, they attempt to shame the other into one choice, the one that favors them. Let’s look at this from each party’s side.
Employers want the benefit that comes from loyalty. This is understandable. They prefer not to have to spend the time, effort, and money that it takes to go through the hiring process. They don’t like the disruption that occurs in their organization when someone departs and leaves a hole in their operations. They like to know that the training investment they make will provide a good return.
If employers want the benefits that come from employee loyalty they need to do what it takes to obtain it; and it’s the employee that gets to decide what it takes. It means employers need to give generously past what is already established in the employment contract. Just because they gave someone a job does not result in loyalty. It takes caring for them individually, knowing about their family, building a strong sense of community at work, and not always responding to things based on corporate policy when a situation arises that is unique and critical. When someone does leave the organization celebrate it with them. Be the lead in throwing the going away party. Keep in touch with them after they leave to see how they are doing. This will speak volumes to the employees who are still with you.
Employees want to have a secure feeling related to their employment. This too is understandable. Their employment fulfills many of the items they need for their own and their family’s existence. The person who has the most influence in this situation is the employee. They are the ones who are responsible for and in control of their performance. It has nothing to do with trusting their employers as trust is about someone acting consistently with what they promise or expound. Employees can expect and trust their employers to give them the compensation they agreed on, allow them to take time off that was previously approved, treat them with respect, and many other things. They cannot trust an employer to continue their employment if their performance is subpar, it is the employer who gets to decide this.
Performance is more than just how well you perform in the tasks and responsibilities you are assigned. It also has to do with how flexible your work schedule is when you have to get a critical project completed, how much effort you put into broadening your knowledge and skills, how good of a team player you are, and how well you get along with others in the organization. These are all things within your sphere of control.
There is a great chance you are going to be an employee and/or an employer for some time. You might as well make it easier on yourself and those you work with by mastering the dynamics that surround employment. Instead of having unhealthy expectations take responsibility for yourself and earn your security through your good actions.