Employees growing disloyal to employers

July 16, 2009
July 16, 2009 – A new study from Ipsos Reid is confirming what many human resources professionals had already feared or believed: Canadian employees are becoming less loyal to their employers. According to recent findings from Ipsos Reid’s Build a Better Workplace syndicated study, 22 per cent of Canadian employees are expressing decreased loyalty to their employer.

“Loyalty to one’s employer is very dependant on recognition,” says JB Aloy, Ipsos’ resident expert on employee engagement and author of the study. “Staff who feel their involvement is not acknowledged are more likely to become disloyal.”

This is not just a sentiment found on the ‘factory floor’—a quarter of executives and managers say their loyalty is decreasing, showing results comparable to production workers and operators. Across industry sectors, employees in the manufacturing and financial services sector—two industries deeply hurt by the ongoing economic downturn—had particularly negative results.

All this is going on in spite of the current job market. In particular, organizational responses to the economic downturn have triggered some employees to question their loyalty. In organizations where staff cuts were made, 36 per cent of employees feel less loyal. In organizations where salaries have been frozen, that figure is 31 per cent.

Across the country, the figures are consistent nation-wide, with the exception of Quebec, where only 10 per cent of the workforce shares this attitude.

“Because these results are quite consistent across sectors, they strongly suggest that employers ought to be considering what they should be doing now in order to hold on to their key performers when economic conditions improve,” adds Aloy. And what are employees saying? Some comments in the survey indicate that the organization’s leadership can’t just simply expect loyalty, it must earn it. “Anything I do that is 'above and beyond the call' is accepted but never reciprocated by management or the employer,” says one respondent. Others comment, “The firm is not loyal to me so I feel decreasing loyalty to the firm,” or “They do nothing for me so I do nothing for them.”

“As workers, all too often we find ourselves considered disposable. Not surprisingly, our loyalty as employees to the firms where we work has responded in kind,” says Timothy Keiningham, global chief strategy officer at Ipsos Loyalty, and author of the newly released book Why Loyalty Matters. “For us as individuals, constant economic change means that we feel always on the brink of losing control. We are forced to live in the moment, and leave tomorrow for the future. What this teaches us can be summed up in the phrase, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ This is the antithesis of loyalty. Loyalty requires a commitment to the future”.

The results were obtained from the Better Workplace Syndicated Study, an online poll of 1,128 employees in Canada, completed between May 22 and May 29, 2009.

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