David Dellman, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

One dictionary definition of loyalty is “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.”

Coworkers and bosses have told me that they find me loyal, and it flatters me to hear that because loyalty is high on my list of values.

I want to be perceived as loyal, and I want to surround myself with people who value loyalty in others and themselves.

Loyalty in the workplace can be a challenging thing.

What if one employee, loyal to another, fails to report the misbehavior of the one to whom he or she is loyal?

Could a supervisor take advantage of the loyalty of a subordinate?

What if, knowing a subordinate is loyal, the supervisor requires duties of the subordinate that are far beyond what is reasonable or even ethical?

I have seen all of the above play out in my tenure as an HR director.

Even so, I value loyalty.

On a personal level, I tend to be loyal to people as opposed to institutions.

Now in a retail business, I work hard to give my customers a reason to be loyal because I know that customer loyalty results in repeat sales.

Manufacturers invest enormous sums of money to create brand loyalty.

But I am not concerned in this piece with the how’s and why’s of creating brand or customer loyalty though that kind of loyalty is undoubtedly desirable.

I am concerned with how we treat each other on a day to day basis in the workplace.

Is there a place for loyalty among coworkers, bosses, supervisors, and subordinates?

We most certainly want to balance loyalty with other forms of integrity and honesty, but I would love to see a renaissance of loyalty in the workplace.

I worked for a person once that demonstrated loyalty to his team every day.

One challenged he faced, I will never forget, and his actions gave me, at the time, a young man, a model for workplace loyalty.

One of my coworkers suffered from substance abuse.

She was a good and hard worker, but her addiction took a toll, and it began to affect her performance on the job.

Most supervisors, loyal to the company and the company interests, might have fired her.

She had been given warnings, but still, there was no change.

Then my boss did something unexpected.

He called this young woman into his office, and he told her that he would no longer tolerate her behavior, but he offered her a choice: she could enter rehab at his expense or resign.

She elected to enter rehab.

She received the help she needed because of my boss.

She recovered, and she became once again the hard-working, productive employee we all knew her to be.

We live in a fast-paced disposable society.

Loyalty urges us not to dispose of each other.

Think about it.

Have a great day.

David Dellman