Being Loyal to Your Employer is Overrated

So recently a good friend of mine was fired. And so that kind of inspired me to make this article today in which I want to tell you about four reasons why being loyal to your employer is overrated. And then tell you about five things you can do instead to make sure that you never find yourself being in a situation with the rug being pulled under you.

I’ve been on both sides of the aisle. On a regular basis, I’m hiring people for my teams and on the other side of things, I currently work for somebody. I’m not a founder like I used to be of a startup. And you know, that comes with it certain risks and considerations that I have to keep in mind as I think about my job, my career, and things like that.

Reason #1: Employers aren’t loyal to employees

The first reason why I think being loyal to your employer is overrated is because employers aren’t loyal to employees. That’s just the fact of the matter. Ultimately, at the end of the day, if you look at what’s happening right now in the world, and you just look at what’s going on in the tech sector, for example, and you visit to a website like, You can just scroll through the endless number of companies that are laying off team members across the board. Really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, there are major cuts happening across the board.

And it’s something in which in many of these cases, these companies did something wrong in which what they were doing was they were baking in way too much growth. They weren’t profitable. And as a result, the person that ultimately suffers or the people that ultimately suffer are the employees, not the organization.

Sure, you could argue that the organization suffers because of the cultural impact of those layoffs and you know, the fact that they’re not growing as much as they could, but the reality is that it’s the people that feel that the most. And so something to keep in mind is that employers are never loyal to employees. You are always at a form of a relationship in which you are exchanging your time to work at a company, and you have to remember that. Because I have seen time and time again, different companies make the pitch that we’re all like a family or, you know, this is a family environment, but I think that’s all a load of bull.

I think that’s something in which you need to keep things professional and you need to separate the two and not fall into the trap of thinking that where you work is your family. I definitely personally fell into that trap in my last company, in that, you know, I co-founded it and when I reflect back, I think that I wasted the last three years of my time there, just because I was thinking about it as me potentially leaving my family as opposed to doing what was best for me for my own career.

The other thing that you have to remember is that this applies across the board, not just in the form of you and me and our day-to-day jobs, but even in all the upper echelons of different industries. If you take a look at NBA teams, for example, back in the nineties, there used to be way more superstars that would stay with the same franchise for the entirety of their career, whether that’s Reggie Miller, Dirk Navitzky, or even Tim Duncan.

But today that’s very far in few in between, it’s generally not rewarded to, or in the best interest of a player to commit to that same franchise for the entirety of their career. And the reason why is because teams have simply shown over time that players are exactly that. They’re players. Nothing more, nothing less.

And so as a result, players have caught on and so they have had way more control over their careers. And as a result, take the best deal available to them when it comes to free agency. So that’s number one, which is, I think that employers are typically not loyal to employees. That’s not to say that you can’t find a place that values employees. I definitely think you can find that. And I think I’m part of a team that definitely falls into that right now.

But what I want you to remember is that at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, it comes down to it. Employers are going to look out for their own best interests. That’s just the reality of the world.

Reason #2: You’re ultimately gonna be paid less

And then the second reason why I think it’s important not to be overly loyal to your employer is because you’re ultimately gonna be paid less. In fact, in a study of Americans who changed jobs during the pandemic, 49% saw a pay bump by switching employers. In other words, they were getting underpaid by somebody else or somebody else valued their talents a little bit more than what their current employer did.

When you think about that, that makes sense. Because ultimately employers, usually in the full time world are only baking in three to 5% of wage increases for their employees every single year in their financial models. In some cases they don’t even get raises at all.

And it’s actually on the employees burden to deal with the impact of inflation and, you know, the rising costs across the board. So it’s something in which when you look at it, time and time again, especially in the United States, what that means is that you are leaving money on the table, which could impact you and your own personal financial goals, retirement goals in the future, or even just supporting your family or dependence and whatever it is that might be your situation.

Reason #3: Employment is always at will

Then the third reason why I think being loyal to your employer is completely overrated is because employment is always at will in the United States. It’s something in which if your boss wanted to fire you today, they could go ahead and make that happen. There’s no reason or need for them to give you more than the same days notice. If they really just wanna get rid of you. And so what you have to understand is that that goes both ways. When you sign that employment contract, you are also at will in which it’s polite for you, if you wanted to give two weeks notice or even four weeks notice to your employer, that you can do so, but you could also just quit that day.

And that’s something that I think has always been a little uneven in that when employees want to move on, they are expected to give two weeks notice or four weeks notice. If they’re being really generous to a place they’ve been at for a while. Whereas if an employer is done with an employee, they typically fire them that same day. And then you sign some sort of form of severance in the case where they want you to not sue them or go after them for whatever it is in the terms of the termination.

And so that’s another thing to keep in mind is that ultimately everything is at will. You can just quit one day and vice versa as well in their direction that they can just fire you one day and knowing that, changes the way that you think about the relationship that you and your employer have. In that if they’re telling you that spiel on we’re all family here. Well, that’s ultimately not true because in most situations you probably wouldn’t see that happen in a functioning family.

Reason #4: Transparency is all relative

And then the fourth reason why I think being loyal to your employer is overrated is because transparency is all relative. You as an employee are always gonna be subject certain pieces of information that your employer wants to tell you. Even in my situation, I am technically a startup executive, and yet there are certain pieces of information in the business that I won’t be privy to. And even in the case where, you know, I had a co-founder my last business, there were certain pieces of information that I wasn’t privy to, unless you are the CEO or the boss of your own business, there’s no way that you’re always gonna be operating off of complete information.

In fact, you’re always gonna be operating off of some sort of world of incomplete information. And that’s really important to keep in mind, because even though your company, for example, can be really profitable doing really well, they can still make calls that may not be in the best interest of their employees, just because they think that that’s the best direction for them.

And so when you think about, that also makes it so that you shouldn’t necessarily be equally as transparent in the reverse direction. The reality is that if an employer has decided that it’s time to fire somebody or make a round of layoffs, that feeling or the gut reaction from the employee is always gonna be one that’s comes a little blindsided even if that employee has been told over the last few weeks that their performance could be better and things like that. I can tell you firsthand that having done different rounds of layoffs in the past, as a manager for teams, that it always feels like a blind side. Even if I have repeatedly given them constructive criticism or feedback for them to try to apply.

And I feel like I’ve been really explicit in my communication the day that I actually cut the cord or, you know, severed the employment relationship is always a surprise to the employee. So now that I’ve gone over four reasons why I think being loyal to your employer is overrated, let’s talk about ways that you can not find yourself in a situation where you’re either fired or laid off or, you know, caught blindsided by your employer.

Here’s what to do instead:

1. Deliver exceptional work and become indispensable

The first thing that I can think of that would be really important for you to keep in mind is that you just need to make sure that you are delivering exceptional work and becoming indispensable for whoever it is you’re working for. The reason why I say this is because anytime that I think about the war room in which, you know, all the managers or leaders in a company were thinking about who to keep and who to lay off, the question always came down to who were the indispensable team members.

And so the question that I’d ask you is in the case where you wouldn’t show up for work for a day or a few days without telling anybody would things break down or be noticeably worse. And in the case where the answer to that question is not things would absolutely get to a stopping point or be a lot worse in outcomes than it means that you’re not indispensable enough.

The best way is to be indispensable is to go beyond the call of duty of what exactly is in your job description. It’s taking what your boss has given you. And it’s doing even more than that, just to show just how valuable you are to them.

2. Keep a door open regardless of how happy you are in your job.

The second thing that I tell you to do is to keep a door open regardless of how happy you are in your job. In other words, keep a pulse on the market, especially in times like these, in which there’s a rising interest rate that are often highly specialized knowledge worker sort of roles. You wanna get a pulse on the market because what that means is that in the case where people are having to strip back their teams and really downsize or rightsize their businesses, it means that every single employee is more and more important, which means that other companies are going to be willing to pay more and more than ever before for your skills.

And that’s especially the case in the United States. In fact, if I just look at digital marketing, for example, I’ve noticed how in the last two or three years alone, an entry level digital marketer used to make maybe 75 grand a year and is now making 95 grand, if not more at certain companies, just because the skillset is way more valuable today. And couple that with rising costs and inflation, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm.

So definitely keep a pulse on the market, regardless of how happy you are, because it might also mean that you have more negotiating chips when it comes to your annual review to go to your boss or your employer to talk about what that might look like in terms of making sure that you’re fairly compensated for your work.

3. Build financial security for yourself

The third thing that I recommend for you to do is to build financial security for yourself, to hedge for the worst. The worst thing that can possibly happen for you is to be in a situation where you are living paycheck to paycheck on your job, because in the case where your employer decides to do a round of layoffs, or even just fire you, you’re caught holding the bag of all the, you know, things that suck about the world at that time.

And so if you don’t have a couple months of savings in place you can really be caught, unprepared and in a really bad situation. And the worst thing you wanna do is put yourself in a state of stress in which you just lost your job. And then you also are worrying about whether or not you’re gonna be able to buy food or pay your rent or whatever it is that your obligations are.

And that’s something that I personally say that I have always prioritized in which I’ve never taken a job that I have ever fully truly a hundred percent needed because I never wanted to give another person or another company that level of control over me in terms of what I wanted to do with my career and what with my work.

And that’s also another reason why it might be useful for you to start a side hustle, whether that’s an online business, some consulting services, a YouTube channel, or even an Etsy store.

4. What do you really want out of a job? What do you value?

And then the last two things that I tell you to keep in mind or do instead is ask yourself, what do you really want out of a job? What do you value? For some people it’s having a consistent place where, you know, the expectations are really clear for them. They work with nice people and they know that what they put in is what they’re gonna get out. For other people, it can mean it’s a place where they really wanna be ambitious and apply their ambition in life. Whereas in their personal lives, they prefer to just kind of chill and hang out and have different hobbies and things like that.

Everyone’s answer to this question is a little bit different. For me personally, I like to be stretched a little bit. I like to look for places in which I can grow, but at the same time, I can feel like my skills are positioned for success. For you, it might be something different. What I’d ask you is have you felt like you are making an impact and have you been productive in the day? Ask yourself those two questions when it comes to what it is that you want out of a job and in the case where most days that is yes, it probably means that you’re in a place where you’ll, you’ll be pretty content, you’re pretty happy with what you’re doing for work.

5. Don’t fall for the family trap

And then the last thing that I tell you to do is don’t fall for the family trap. In the case where you work for small businesses, there’s gonna be tons of times when you know, your boss is gonna be telling you about how you should take one for the team or how you should do certain things, because we’re all family here. Don’t listen to that. It’s all a load of baloney. And it’s something that is ultimately an unfair trade to you. And it’s something in which you need to be wary of that because it’s usually a red flag, to be honest, in terms of who it is that you might be working for.

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