So what about loyalty? Does it matter at all any more or has the willingness of companies to use the recession as a cover to rid themselves of less than "A" level talent killed off the last vestiges? That's the provocative question that Wharton prof Peter Cappelli asks in his excellent essay in Human Resource Executive Online.
He quotes a survey that shows that two-thirds of all employers who laid off people in the recession did it to get rid of lackluster performers and replace them with new hires. Why? Because the recession has made better-quality workers available.
Cappelli said that in general, workers competed internally to show themselves as the most competent. Now, "the performance standard necessary to keep a job depends on competition in the outside market. The relevant question to keep a job then becomes: Could the company hire somebody better than the current employee?"
Of course, as he points out, this assumes that company recruiters are adept at selecting better employees -- a real challenge with the current flood of incoming resumes. Didn't these recruiters find the workers now being let go? Why have they suddenly become so perceptive at picking top talent?
"The most important implication concerns issues of morale and commitment."
(My comment? Hah! Big eye roll!)
Employers, Cappelli said, moaned over the death of company loyalty when bright talent hopped from dot.com to dot.com in search of the best deal. "Is there anything different about what the employers are doing here?"
My answer: Of course not!
Cappelli said he can't imagine any employee who watches this ugly layoff process feeling any qualms whatsoever about leaving for a better position if it comes along. "Does this put the nail in the coffin of the view that employers and employees have obligations short of looking out for their own immediate self-interest.
Those employees who have made the shift into self-interest and managing their own careers are already ahead of the game in this scenario. Those in management and in the workforce who still think about long-term commitment and loyalty, about the fairness of policies, about internal equity, seem to be losing ground.
I definitely recommend reading this excellent essay by Cappelli.