Employee loyalty is dead. And no, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Long gone are the days recent graduates would dream of landing internships at companies and slowly moving up the corporate ladders until retiring after 40 years of faithful service. Today’s bright young minds want challenges and responsibility from day one.
While the majority of companies are playing defense and trying as hard as they can to protect their employees from the outside world and to retain them until the end of days, the most innovative companies are already playing offense and figuring out ways how to attract these masterminds. The companies playing defense have yet to realize two important facts:
Fact 1: There will always be more smart people outside your organization
No matter how brilliant your employees are, there will always be smarter people outside your organization. Period. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have them all work for you or tap into their intelligence just for a brief moment? The catch is they will never even consider applying for a position at your company if they know they will be locked up like a bird in a cage. The greatest thinkers require mobility and freedom or their productivity will dry up.
Fact 2: Keep exposing your employees to ideas and people outside your organization or they will stop learning
Network intelligence is a wonderful thing. If you encourage your employees to maintain and grow their social networks, they might actually learn something in the process. Imagine if after successfully recruiting a bright mind to your company, that person actually kept learning thanks to being exposed to different ways of thinking? This might even require you to subsidize your employees’ networking activities by sending them off to conferences, investing in social business tools, or hosting events yourself. Are you up for the challenge?
Companies that want to be successful in the future have to adjust their talent strategies to fit the post-loyalty world. The most prolific employees are looking for a new, mutually beneficial employer-employee compact. Companies have to understand their best employees will not stay forever, but for the duration of their stint, they should do everything they can to make each other more valuable. Furthermore, the departure of a good employee is not the end of the world. Instead of having employees for life, why not have relationships for life? A lot of companies are already nurturing alumni networks to allow for their ex-employees to contribute even after their departure. The post-loyalty world is here whether you try to do something about it or not. You have the ball, and you are going to have to decide if you want to play offense or defense.