American workers now spend a median of 4.1 years with their employers, according to federal data collected just before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a spectrum of industries and spurred the so-called Great Resignation.
The record high quit rate—more than 40 million last year—has led to the tightest U.S. labor market in decades with employees using that leverage to call the shots and find better jobs. They’re renegotiating everything, from their salaries and shifts to remote or hybrid work, and forcing employers to be more flexible.
The modern workplace has become increasingly transactional, a marked transformation from the post-war era when employees stayed put until they retired with a party, a gold watch, and a good pension. The dramatic change begs the question: Whatever happened to workplace loyalty?
“The balance of power continues to shift backwards and forwards. Sometimes the employer doesn’t need to make such an effort. They need to make that effort now,” Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell says.
Janice Bellace, a Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics, thinks loyalty is an outmoded concept. Instead, companies should be making sure that employees “feel engaged and well treated.”
“Loyalty implies something more about the relationship” being reciprocal, she says. “If you’re at a company and feel productive and properly treated, you may still go to another company if they pay you 20% more. But if people feel very engaged and well treated, they not only will feel productive, they will want to stay.”
Read more at Knowledge at Wharton.