We know some chief executives demand personal loyalty. We know some organisations expect employees to demonstrate loyalty. But in a recent article in the Sunday Times Julian Richer founder and managing director of Richer Sounds states ,”bosses should be loyal to their workforce”.
This is in the context of treating employees , or colleagues as Mr Richer prefers to refer to them, well. He recalls his earliest influence as the chief executive where his parents worked who would make unannounced visits where upon he would check the staff toilets were up to scratch and that the canteen was offering decent hot food. Perhaps this might be considered a tad paternalistic these days but the message is still relevant, treating employees well is more than warm words it’s about actions that show a genuine interest in your employees experience of the work place.
Clean and inviting toilets are still important even if there is no longer a work’s canteen. And on the subject of toilets they say more about an organisations comfort with transgender issues than any Equality and Inclusion statement. So no disagreement about valuing, recognising and rewarding individuals and the importance of communication upwards as well as downwards. But saying bosses should be loyal to their workforce implies more than this.
I assume by “bosses” Mr Richer means Directors , the people at the top of the organisation who make up the board. So how do you demonstrate loyalty as a boss? Does this mean you don’t consider outsourcing services , even if it would be more efficient , as this would be disloyal to your employees? What about the introduction of new technology or changes in working practices which make some posts redundant?
Does loyalty to your workforce simply mean viewing employees positively and treating them well or showing unwavering support and forsaking all others. I can see that a boss being loyal to their workforce is like being loyal to your partner in that it involves valuing the others opinions and ideas, it requires trust and honesty and a willingness to put effort into the relationship.
Soldiers can be described as loyal to their General but can a General be described as loyal to their soldiers? Are we simply acknowledging that a good General looks after their soldiers.
There is a strong tradition of bosses looking after their employees which may have gone out of fashion in the modern era but post covid and the Great Resignation may be due to return.