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Commitment Part 4:

Commitment or Loyalty in the Workplace

by Martha Nelson

Gone are the days when we expected the “gold watch at retirement” for 40 years’ loyal service. Now it seems most employers are less committed to our well-being (longer hours, fewer benefits) -- and we are less committed to staying with a company even three years if we see a career advantage in leaving them behind.  We also move around more than our parents did.  So, the idea of having commitment to your employer (and them to you) is less popular than ever.

Today we demand endless variety and choices – in food, in entertainment, in which car to buy, or which vacation to take. Commitment to a job sounds narrow and boring. But one of the benefits of commitment is that we can focus on doing something well – versus being haunted by the vague question, “What if we were doing something else?”

The Strength from Commitment

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The stability that comes from commitment in marriage or to our community is a force that we probably underrate in the business world. If we all bring an attitude only of “What’s in it for me?” to the workplace, nobody benefits.  And withholding commitment to your employer (or them to you) does not create a positive and profitable workplace either.

For example, imagine if we all went to work not just to be paid but to help the company succeed, even in a small way, with ideas we suggest or just doing our jobs the best we could.  What if our supervisor came to trust us as an honest, positive employee who wanted to contribute to the success of the company? Why wouldn’t they like that and reward it? You may say, “Naw, they don’t care!” -- but you might be surprised if you try it.

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As a manager, what if those under you felt they were not just cogs in a wheel but valued associates who were appreciated and respected as you yourself would wish to be respected? Whose experience on the job was an asset to be protected? I believe these generous attitudes toward one another could foster a more creative and productive work environment that filled us rather than drained us by the end of the day. 

Stealing From the Company

Large embezzlement cases in the corporate world make headlines. Yet you or a colleague may have stolen from the company by cheating them on your time card, corporate expenses or by helping yourself to stationery or other supplies when no one was looking.  We may excuse this behaviour as “small potatoes” that won’t be noticed by a big company. But it’s still dishonest and is the opposite of helping your employer to succeed in the business that pays your salary. Is it worth it to excuse this behaviour in yourself or others – when it undermines your commitment to your employer?  If your conscience is telling you something is wrong, it probably is.

We may call these boring moralizing arguments – but somehow even in the business world our personal choice of generous commitment versus petty miserliness can make a big difference in our lives and others’.  We each make our own choices, and we can’t always change the attitudes of others. Yet a renewed commitment to others where we work could have more impact than we think.

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