In the 1950’s, a job was kind of like a marriage. A man (it was mostly men back then) and an employer met and agreed to a partnership that typically lasted until the man retired. Such lifetime employment is hard to imagine today, with employees jumping ship for any better offer and employers cutting their payrolls whenever earnings take a dip. But despite the fact that the employ-employer relationship is now more like serial monogamy than a marriage, employers still value loyalty. And many of them think millennials don’t have any. That’s no more accurate than any other stereotype, so what can you do to highlight your loyalty? Well, let’s take a look at how employers tend to describe their most loyal employees:
- Motivated: It’s one thing to attend training classes when your company tells you to go. It’s another thing entirely to take the initiative on your own to learn something that will help you do your job better. Acting to improve your skills shows your employer that you’re not just biding your time until something better comes along.
- Team player: This one is simple: Don’t be a crybaby. Having to work the occasional late night or weekend is just part of being a responsible adult. When it happens, just put a smile on your face (even if it hurts) and do everything you can to help out.
- Patient and persistent: Sometimes you have to redo something because you made a mistake. Sometimes you have to redo your work because someone a few steps up the ladder changed their mind, and that can be frustrating. But the people above you aren’t perfect. However, neither are they idiots (probably). Nor are they plotting to make your life miserable. They’re doing what they’re paid to do, which is adapt. Would you really want them to continue going down a path they knew was wrong just so you wouldn’t have to do any rework? They’re doing their jobs, and the best way for you to show loyalty is to do yours without complaints or eye rolls.
- Flexible: Most of us have occasional downtime. Even if you’re swamped, sometimes you have an hour or so when you’ve completed one project but don’t really have time to dive into something else. That’s when loyal employees go to the boss and ask, “What can I help you with right now?” That shows that you realize you’re there to benefit the company, not to grab an hour of free time whenever you can.
- Candid: The higher a person rises in an organization, the fewer people there are who will tell them things they don’t want to hear. But the people who keep quiet are looking out for themselves, not their boss or the company. If you really want to showcase your loyalty, tell the emperor when he has no clothes, even if it’s risky to your career. That shows the highest kind of loyalty: putting the company ahead of yourself.
- Know when it’s over: It may sound counterintuitive, but the most loyal employees know when it’s time to leave. They know that, if their heart isn’t in it anymore, the best thing for the company is to replace them with someone who still has that passion.
Even in a world of layoffs and reduced hours, employers value loyalty. It may not be fair, but it is what it is. Employees who prove their loyalty are far more likely to succeed, especially when things get tough. And there’s one simple key to highlighting your loyalty: Just remember that it’s not all about you.