Here’s why your company will never truly care about you…
has changed in the world of work over the past few decades. Outside the obvious advances in technology and the ever-evolving demands of customers, another interesting dynamic made a shift, loyalty. When I say loyalty, I’m talking two-fold. First, employees are far less likely to stay at a company long term. While many reasons exist for the propensity to move on to bigger and better things, I’m going to focus on one area that may be driving lower loyalty levels in many organizations. That area of focus is the employer’s lack of loyalty to the employee. Let’s dig in to find out more about why your employer will never be loyal…and why your company will never truly care about you.
The first thing
to keep in mind is that an organization, a company, is its own entity. This means it exists, just like you and I exist. Governments, banks, and other businesses see any company as its own being. While the company might not feel emotions such as sadness or joy, it is exposed to social, economic, and ecological pressures. Pressures aside, the key point is that the company you work for exists and “lives’ as its own being. This is critically important as to why it will never care about you for one very important reason, psychology.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a five-tier model of human needs (seven tier versions of the model now exist). These needs are often depicted in a pyramid.
Let’s take a closer look:
Self-Actualization – become the most one can be
Esteem – respect, self-esteem, status, recognition
Love & Belonging – friendship, family, sense of connection
Safety Needs – personal security, resources, health, property
Physiological Needs – food, water, shelter, clothing
things get interesting. Because the company you work for is an entity on its own, one could argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, at least to a certain extent, applies. If we take a closer look at the levels, here are a few examples of individual needs translated to organizational needs.
Self-Actualization – introducing a revolutionary new product or service
Esteem – making the Forbes top places to work list
Love & Belonging – participating in community projects
Safety Needs – installing security system, employee badges, etc.
Physiological Needs – electric, plumbing, internet connection
Now, while your company, and every other company out there, exist as their own entity, they happen to be run by people. What ends up happening is you essentially have Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at play with the company as an entity on its own, and then one to fifty times (or a million) over depending on how many people make up the Shareholders, Board of Directors, and Officers of the company.
How Many Pyramids Are At Play Before You Are Considered?
The Perception of Caring
When things go well, the company and many of the people running it are all operating somewhere between Love & Belonging and Self-Actualization. At this point, the company will be able to do things to continue to grow. Examples may include rewards programs, development opportunities, promotions, etc. I say these lend to the perception of caring as ultimately, the company you work for, that entity, benefits if you are happier and work harder. You get a raise, you’re happy, you work harder, the company makes more money, everybody “wins”.
As we all know, the good times can’t last forever. So, what happens when the market shifts, or customers leave, or some other negative activity impacts the company you work for? Psychology my friend. And it’s interesting that Maslow’s pyramid can double as a slide straight back down to the ground. Oh, and how many pyramids are at play before you’re taken care of? Just food for thought…
The Reality of Needs
Self-preservation is an interesting thing. As humans, or living entities, nature has programmed us to have self-preservation mechanisms. Examples of this are everywhere. The camper that runs away from the bear in the woods or quickly removing your hand from a hot pan handle to avoid burns or more severe damage. I’m sure you can think of several other examples but there is on more that I think helps better explain why the company you work for will never truly care about you…eating.
Food is one of the physiological needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. Let’s say you are a healthy, in shape individual. Unfortunately, you catch a few bad breaks. You break your ankle, catch pneumonia, spend a month in the hospital, end up losing your job, and find yourself on a downward spiral. Ultimately, you end up renting a small apartment and taking a job that barely pays the bills. In fact, every month you are faced with a tough choice. You don’t bring in enough cash to pay rent, all your utility bills, and get enough food so that you aren’t going hungry. At the end of the day, you decide to pay a few bills late and spend the money on food because without food, your health will decline, and you won’t be able to go to work.
Why The Company You Work for Will Never Truly Care
The above is a bit of an exaggerated example (perhaps not so exaggerated for some). More times than not, Maslow’s hierarchy dictates choices in tough situations. For the company you work for, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is at play. Today, your company may be doing well. The financials are in line, it’s well respected within the industry, and a leader in innovation. However, with a few missteps and some unfavorable market conditions, everything stands to change. When that happens, the company will slide down the pyramid back to the basic physiological needs. For a company, a business, those become things that keep the lights on and the doors open (or the website running).
Everything else is unnecessary. The company is simply enabling self-preservation mechanisms to keep itself alive. So, while the company is doing well, there is a perception of caring but somewhere, somehow, a plan for self-preservation, for survival, exists. If that plan is enacted, short of a critical few, everything and everyone must go otherwise the company dies.
I think one exception to the above exists. If YOU own the company, it ends up being a bit like your baby. Parents WILL put themselves in harm’s way to protect their child. While I do not suggest you do this with your company – maintaining a separation of emotion is a good thing – many business owners blur lines of self-preservation between themselves as individuals and their company, their baby.
the company you work for treats you well during good times. The leadership recognizes and shares the wealth to keep the entity thriving. It’s important you continue to learn and develop your skills. One day, your company may not be doing so well. If that happens, the two layers of the needs (the company’s and the executives) will take priority over you. In that situation, it’s important to remember your organization never truly cared about you in the first place. Take your experience and move on. Seek to add value until it becomes obvious the organizations’ self-preservation mode (or management’s greed, disrespect, or ignorance – that’s a different post) kicks in.
Oh, and one last thought. When people say it isn’t personal, it’s just business, that’s typically true. The instinct to survive is engrained in entities. So, while this post may come across as cold and inaccurate to some, when push comes to shove, you’ll find more truth in the words above than not.
Read more about my Six Steps To Fire so you don’t have to worry as much about your company not caring about you!