Why In The Heck Should I Be A Loyal Nurse?
Companies were loyal to employees as recently as a couple of generations ago, but the good old days are gone forever. Why in the heck should I be loyal to my workplace when I know that the people in upper management would never show any loyalty to me?
As a nurse, is it really worth it to show loyalty to your place of employment? Perhaps there truly are benefits to being a loyal employee. Maybe not.
Your thoughts on workplace loyalty are probably dependent upon the generation in which you came of age. As recently as a couple of generations ago, it was common practice for companies to strive toward providing lifetime employment for all workers who performed at an acceptable level. In exchange for this implied promise of long term employment, most workers remained at the same workplace for 25, 30, 40+ years, or until retirement. In the distant past, corporations were fiercely loyal to employees, and employees gave back by being loyal to these corporations. The loyalty was mutual.
I am 31 years old and was born in 1981, so I was born at the very end of Generation X or the very beginning of Generation Y depending on the source I use to define the cutoff points for the generational cohorts. I was 20 years old when the Enron scandal unfolded in 2001 and watched as legions of loyal employees lost their jobs, retirement savings, and overall sense of security. The story behind the Enron collapse is complicated and way outside the scope of this article, but I will say one thing: the big wigs at the very top of that corporation did not show any loyalty to anyone but themselves.
My views on workplace loyalty are also shaped by the Great Recession of 2008 to 2009. During the last recession, companies laid off masses of employees without taking length of service, tenure, or loyalty into consideration. Benefits for workers have been eroding for years; however, this erosion has accelerated within the past few years. For example, many major healthcare systems are transferring a greater share of health care costs onto their employees. Also, defined benefit pension plans are largely a relic of the past, having been replaced with 401k plans and IRAs. In addition, many hospitals are hiring part-time and/or PRN employees only, as these jobs are cheaper to the corporation's bottom line than full-time benefited positions.
I also live and learn by ensuring that I do not repeat the mistakes of my more seasoned coworkers. The nurses in my metropolitan area who remain employed with the same workplace for 20+ years are often the first ones to be unjustly fired. I suspect this is due to the fact that they've topped out on the wage grid. I've seen the most loyal nurses get chewed up, spit out, discarded by healthcare corporations, and soon forgotten. When (or if) they find another job, it often comes with a substantial cut in pay and a zap to the soul. By the way, I live in an at-will employment state and unionized hospitals do not exist in the large metropolitan area where I work.
In summary, I am loyal to myself. I am loyal to my patients while I am on the clock and providing care to them. However, I will never be loyal to any entity that employs me. As soon as the people in upper management get tired of me, I know they'll terminate my employment without losing one minute of sleep over me. And as soon as my workplace no longer meets my needs, I will quit without feeling a morsel of guilt.
The feeling is mutual these days. It's nothing personal.Last edit by Joe V on Nov 24, '12
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,035; Likes: 69,274
CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
Specialty: 11 year(s) of experience in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psychNov 24, '12Sad but true, years ago hospitals were referred to as a hospital family.....now you are just an employee.Nov 24, '12I started my nursing career as a CNA in 1993 at a smallish hospital that hired me as an RN when I graduated in 1995. That hospital- our unit and the hospital as a whole- felt like family, loyal, all "of one mind" in a sense when it came to patient care and taking care of employees. It merged with another hospital then with a nationwide system. That sense of comeraderie and unity is long gone. It's just a place to work now.Nov 24, '12I am loyal to myself. I am loyal to my family. I am loyal to my friends. I am loyal to my patients WHEN I am on the clock and within the mutual respect relationship- I do not tolerate abuse by patients. My workplace? I follow the rules and show up to work and do a good job. I owe them nothing else, nor would they care about loyalty if I were to break contract.Nov 24, '12In all seriousness, though, I think that kind of employee loyalty went out the window along with the guarantee of lifetime employment. When my dad was a young man, you could expect to be employed for life as long as you were a good employee. As long as the company stayed in business, you had a job. Nowadays that's all gone. They will fire your butt in a minute and replace you with a desperate new grad who will work for peanuts. Loyalty is a two way street.Nov 24, '12Is hard to be loyal when experience nurses are always seen as an expensive cost, and some new grads are all just waiting for you to drop dead to take your position. Nursing school saturating the system and medicaid medicare hcahps reducing hospital reimbursements.Nov 24, '12Hospitals care more about the "customer" than the employee. So I bet you can guess my thoughts on the subject.Nov 24, '12Great article, and I totally agree. I have to laugh when I see people here lament to the newish-grad nurse who has gotten a job offer in their dream department, "but they INVESTED in you! Where's your LOYALTY??" As long as you give fair notice (I consider that 4 weeks in healthcare), you owe them nothing more. They certainly don't feel like they owe you anything if suddenly you are no longer convenient to them, I'm quite certain of it.Nov 24, '12I'm a full generation older than the Generation X'ers, and I feel exactly the same way they do: I'll remain loyal to an employer as long as they treat me right. They stop treating me right, or try kicking me to the curb with the garbage, I'm done---no questions asked. No nurse can afford to be loyal in a time when hospitals and corporations no longer feel they owe anything to the people who keep them in business.Nov 24, '12I was one who started in the seventies working for a hospital I genuinely felt there existed a reciprocal feeling of loyalty. We even had a union get enough signatures for a vote. The union lost. Now it's a completely different environment, sad to say. I learned that the hard way recently when I expected to be treated in an "old values" way, and got royally screwed for my efforts. It's very strange to feel like you've been a Pollyanna at over fifty years old. I learned my lesson, but there's still a profound sense of sadness that the name of the game now is to protect yourself first, and be very sparing when it comes to trusting their word.Nov 24, '12My Dad was a "company man" for most of my childhood until things at his company broke up in the late 1980s. I remember the company picnics and parties. His old coworkers and their families have remained lifelong friends with us.
Those days aren't coming back anytime soon.
Most of us have never experienced anything except the modern workplace.