A new study by Ipsos Reid has found another nasty side effect of the recession: plummeting employee loyalty. Across the country, 22 per cent of Canadian employees are expressing decreased loyalty to their employer, the study found—a direct result of the economic downturn.
At companies that have frozen salaries or laid people off, plunging loyalty is even more widespread. The study reported that 31 per cent of employees feel less loyal in organizations where salaries are on ice, while 36 per cent of employees feel less loyal in organizations where the staff has been cut.
“Employees have the feeling they have to do more with less, and they expect some reciprocity,” says J.B. Aloy of Ipsos Reid. “Loyalty is really a two-way street, and right now they don’t have that impression.”
One of the study’s most surprising findings was that dropping loyalty was as common among executives and managers as among regular workers. “You expect them to be more engaged and more loyal,” Aloy explains. “But right now it’s all about recognition, and I think that many executives and managers don’t feel recognized.”
Alan Levy, associate professor of human resources and labour relations at the University of Brandon, says that part of the problem is that most organizations were quick to turn to layoffs when the recession hit. Human resources departments then compounded the problem by giving “lip service” to the idea that employees are a valuable resource, before unceremoniously cutting dozens.
Aloy says that employers should heed the negative sentiment, because employees have long memories. “It’s very important to make sure you have the right resources and you keep your key people,” he says. “Some shortterm decisions might impact the long-term capacity of the organizations to perform.”