I had the chance to meet a lovely couple, though I interviewed them separately as both of them are still working even at the golden age of 65 years old. The husband works in Makati City while the lady of the house works in Alabang. How they got into their present positions is part fate, part skill, part talent and for the most part, loyalty. They are Jimmy and Cynthia Matias. Wonderful retirement-age couple who have not yet retired.
How does one define loyalty? It is when a person feels one with something or someone, with the same set of values and a culture they treasure. Wikipedia defines it as “faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause.”
Why is it important to find loyal employees? Because it’s like finding partners for your business. Employees and associates who do not own the business but sometimes care more for the business than partners do.
Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Matias have been working for the Ayalas since the 1980s. More than 30 years of service, getting assigned to Davao or Alabang, they speak of their work like they were owners and founders. They talk about their bosses with much respect and endearment.
But where so you find Jimmys and Cynthias these days? With threats of OFW opportunities, foreign employment and simple “uneasiness in one job,” we employers are hard pressed in finding candidates who can stay with the company for a long time.
Is loyalty learned in school? Is it inculcated in you by parents? But for most twenty-somethings who were raised by their grandparents because their parents worked abroad, it has become difficult to even ask the child to consider local work. Everyone but everyone wants to follow their parents’ footsteps of working abroad to earn higher salaries, even with the challenges like employer abuse, non-payment or non-compliance with contract terms and many other horror stories of OFW work.
So, how do we even define loyalty if the workforce is always looking the other way where the grass seems to be greener? Half the time they just seek training and recorded experience from a “branded” firm, and then in less than six months they sign contracts to go abroad. And this phenomenon crosses different industries and business or professions—be it lawyer-ing or legal practice, manufacturing and the most affected industry—hospitality—and more specifically, food and beverage.
Maybe Ethics and Values Formation should start in school. Maybe CHED or the Commission on Higher Education can help us hone the “intangibles” that children now take for granted. I remember having a Values Formation course in a company I used to manage. We had to level off all applicants and the first lesson was on our Corporate Values. After this, we imparted our training in skills for the jobs they applied for. But values first, skills next. But SMEs have a hard time doing this because they do not and cannot afford training departments. So SMEs have to contend with a higher turnover of employees because Training and Values Formation may not be part of their employment process.
Most new graduates also work in contractual jobs where loyalty is really not discussed at all, because the employers do not keep them anyway. They move from company to company, accepting the fate of today’s workforce: contractual employment.
And these may just be some of the reasons it may be hard to find Jimmys and Cynthias in today’s workforce. Contractual labor. OFW employment. No Values formation either in school or at work.
When we find good employees, we like to keep them. They become family. I remember our cook Laylay, my mom’s cook who has served the family for over 50 years now. Her sisters and brothers worked for us, her daughters, nephews and nieces and now even the in-laws of nephews and nieces are working for our family. My present driver’s father also worked in our firm before. And he is mighty proud that he is working for our family, too.
I hope we can bring back the culture of preserving these values and inculcating them as a “must have” for every worker, manager and any employee. I hope employers find time to impart such values to their staff. We must start a cycle of good values. And let it become viral.
Loyalty is so rare nowadays. And it comes with a very steep price. Let’s make it the commodity it used to be. Where everyone had values and they were rewarded well for it.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org