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Loyalty seems like a quality that is becoming increasingly harder to find. People today are feeling less and less of an obligation to their employer. Years ago, employees believed that when they were hired that they would be with that same company until they retired. That is no longer the case. People today change jobs and even careers at least once during their lifetime. People’s senses of obligation and loyalty have changed. How loyal are employees expected to be to their employer?
In the article, Four Concepts of Loyalty, David Soles discusses different views on loyalty and how they relate to employee loyalty. The first view is that of Josiah Royce, an American idealist. According to Royce, loyalty requires total, thorough-going dedication to a cause. Royce’s definition of loyalty would lead people to believe that a truly loyal employee ” would always be willing to place the interests of the principal before purely private interests, even in matters unrelated to employment; a loyal employee would never advocate or vote for social policies or legislation that might damage the interests of the employer; a loyal employee would never criticize or oppose the actions of the employer ” and so on. These are not realistic expectations and most people would have to agree that the average employee would not behave in this manner. The idealist concept of loyalty implies it is very unlikely that a business could even qualify as an object that people could be loyal to. It requires people to contribute more than most people would conceive of contributing to their employer. To many people their job or even career cannot compare to a family or a close friend.
The common sense view of loyalty is a view most of us are familiar with. In this case, most people see no problem with being a loyal fan of a baseball team or that someone is loyal to his/her alma mater. There are three fundamental features of loyalty that relate directly to the common sense conception. First, loyalty entails having a positive attitude toward the object on one’s loyalty. Second, loyalty involves serving the interests of the object one is loyal to. And lastly, both the concern and the obligation that a person believes he/she has to the object connect that person to that object. The common sense view goes on to discuss an employees’ loyalty to his/her employer. According to this conception, no one has an obligation to be loyal to anything. For a person to be loyal to something, one must care about it. Furthermore people can have moral obligations to perform certain actions but we do not have moral obligations to have certain attitudes and beliefs. The common sense conception also states that one should only bestow their loyalty onto those objects, which are worthy of it. Moreover, if a person were to feel obligated to his/her employer than loyalty is said to exist. However, if there were no feeling of obligation, then would the employee owe his employer anything?
The concept of employee loyalty is one that has many meanings. Depending on how one defines loyalty and how it is applied can be very different. As if this concept is not complicated enough, what happens when employees are downsized or randomly tested for drugs? Many people would have to say a lot.
Drug testing is one issue that is highly debatable. While many employers believe that drug testing is necessary to safeguard coworker and consumer health and safety, critics say that it violates people right to privacy. Privacy is a trusting way others treat us, resulting in a conception of ourselves, as worth being trusted. Random or across the board drug testing without “reasonable cause” implicitly tells employees that they are not trustworthy. When an employees’ trust is undermined they do not feel like they can act autonomously because there is no trust present. Moreover, people who are trusted less are less likely to feel obligated to that company since there is no connection between the individual and the object (the employer).
In conclusion, employee loyalty is a topic in which people have debated for many years. I personally feel that an employee has an obligation to their workplace. That obligation does not involve putting the interests of the company before all other personal interests, however it involves a commitment to that job and to the people involved. Going to work and doing a little more than what your job requires you to do is an example of that loyalty and commitment. Advocating the positive things about your company and those that you work with is a basic part of your employment. However, individuals will continue to hold their own view of loyalty and how they relate it to the employer.
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