What price loyalty?


If loyalty is, and always has been, perceived as obsolete, why do we continue to praise it? Because loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. Without loyalty there can be no love. Without loyalty there can be no family. Without loyalty there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And without those things, there can be no society.

Eric Felten

I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty.

Samuel Goldwyn

When I was a child loyalty was considered to be a good thing, it was valued.  Being a loyal friend was a good thing. Being a loyal employee was considered valuable.  As Samuel Goldwyn said “I’ll take 50% efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty”. Being a loyal customer was rewarded.

I am a very loyal person. In fact I have discovered to my deep regret that I am too loyal.  I have the same hairdresser that I discovered at the age of 19 – that’s 48 years. He was and is a superb hairdresser. I have the same husband for almost as long! I live in the same house that I was brought up in as a child. I have friends of more than 50 years. I could go on.

Until recently I had the same dentist for more than 30 years. Then she retired. And there’s the rub. Since her retirement I haven’t found anyone any where near as good.  As time has gone by it appears to me that to be loyal is to be foolish.  For many years I insured our house with the same company. I presumed that I would be respected and rewarded for sticking with them.  So I had a terrible shock when I realised that a similarly respected company, offering the same terms and conditions, would charge me a third of my existing company. When I told them this, they immediately offered to match the price!  I was disgusted. I was being penalised for loyalty. I have never re-insured with the original company and now every year I check out the comparison sites and make sure I have the best deal – no loyalty from me any more. 

Instead companies try and create loyalty by offering loyalty cards and rewards but good service and respect for shoppers will engender far more loyalty than fake financial deals.

The paternalistic relationship with employees has gone.  The values of the Quaker industrialists to improve the lives and working conditions of their employees no longer exists. You are no longer a trusted and valued member of the company ‘family’, you are now a commodity and depending on the marketplace, you are either pursued, or dumped. So employees have little time for loyalty. Although there are exceptions.

If you ask Google “Does loyalty pay?” most of the links demonstrate that loyalty to utility providers, banks, insurance companies and broadband businesses does not pay. But it does reveal that the boss of the now multi-billion Tata company believes that loyalty is very important. In a recent deal with terminated workers from his steel company, he agreed to pay their wages for life.

Does Facebook, which I love, make it easier for people to be disloyal? Does the anonymity of the internet make it easier to be disloyal?

I know that I have been punished for my loyalty in the past and so now I am far more discriminating about who I bestow my loyalty on.  We have found a wonderful chimney sweep, who turns up, does the job and cheerily and reliably turns up the following year.

I am terrified my beloved hairdresser will retire – I can’t imagine life without his skilful hands and terrific gossip.

Does this lack of loyalty make for a happier society? Does this make for a happier work life? In the army loyalty is highly prized – it can be the difference between life and death. And how wonderful it is to come home to the adoring eyes of a pet dog – that animal will be loyal to a fault.

So, despite the risks I will stick with Eric Felten who said” If loyalty is, and always has been, perceived as obsolete, why do we continue to praise it? Because loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. Without loyalty there can be no love. Without loyalty there can be no family. Without loyalty there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And without those things, there can be no society.”

Let me know what you think. 

Bryher Scudamore Founder and Managing Director of autodotbiography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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