Does it Make Sense to Be a Loyal Employee?
29 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014
Date Written: 2013
Loyalty is a much-discussed topic among business ethicists, but this discussion seems to have issued in very few clear conclusions. This article builds on the literature on the subject and attempts to ground a definite conclusion on a limited topic: whether, and under what conditions, it makes sense for an employee to offer loyalty to his employer.
The main ways in which loyalty to one’s employer can contribute to human flourishing are that it makes the employee more trustworthy and therefore more valuable as an employee; makes it easier to form authentic relationships in other areas of the employee’s life; expands the employee’s field of interests and gives her a richer identity; provides greater motivation for the employee’s work; makes it possible to have a greater unity in the employee’s life; improves the performance of the organization for which the employee works; contributes to the protection of valuable social institutions; and, in so far as many employees share an attitude of loyalty towards the organization which employs them, it becomes possible for this organization to become a true community. Last but not least, loyal relationships have an inherent value.
The article also reviews the main arguments that have been offered against employee loyalty and concludes that none of them offers a reason why it would be inappropriate in all cases for an employee to be loyal to her employer. The force of these arguments depends on the specific attributes of the organization for which the employee works.
The main conclusion of the article is that while being a loyal employee involves risk, it has the potential to contribute significantly to the employee’s fulfillment. The main challenge for employees is to identify employers who are worth being loyal to.
Keywords: Loyalty, meaning in work, implied employment contract, employee commitment, community
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