Posts Tagged ‘Corporate America’


Is Corporate Loyalty Dead?

December 4, 2013

Nope, but it is a former version of itself.  It doesn’t look the way it looked 30 years ago…gone are the days (for most) of working at a company for 25 to 30+ years and retiring with the gold watch.  So if loyalty from employees is different…what is it, how do you define it, and most importantly…how do you capitalize on it?  Consider this example…

In my local December 1st paper there was an article on airline frequent flier miles and transferable policies.  It compared the largest U.S.-based airlines on clear and published polices vs. vague, unpublished and inconsistently applied policies.  It also compared on specific policies like if the accumulated points were transferable and if a fee was charged, or not, on transferring the points.  Another policy compared was whether there were limits to whom you could give your points too, especially after death.  (In case you are wondering, US Airways was the clear winner on providing clear guidelines and in my opinion had the best consumer policies.)  And the last sentence of the article packed the biggest punch…”the average American is a member of 22 loyalty programs.”  Twenty-two!  A quick look in my wallet had me as a member of 16 loyalty programs.  I was kinda surprised…who knew I could be so loyal?  The research firm in the article – Colloquy – estimates that “memberships in such programs increased more than 26% in the past 2 years, and all those miles, points and rewards are worth some $50 billion.”

Clearly Americans love loyalty programs.  Why?  While the programs provide repeat customers to the company, in the consumer’s eye they benefit greatly, and in some cases in really big ways. (Think lots of free flights.)  A loyalty program puts me at the center…I get sneak peeks on new items, first notification of big sales, free products and some special treatment.  Loyalty programs put ME first (or for the most part I have agreed to believe they do)!

But companies are different with their employees…they expect loyalty before giving you big rewards. Consider that for the most part all I have to do is sign up for a consumer-based loyalty program and I’m accepted.  So what if companies flipped the idea of “loyalty”.   What if loyalty was no longer equated with job stability or employment for life, as it is defined today.  But what if it was defined as how a company invests in you – from day one.  Put the employee at the center, support them in their development, provide clear, published expectations and throw in some fun rewards!  And remember to remind me of why I am loyal…a consumer-based loyalty program reminds me every time I check out and get a discount with my card or redeem my miles/points for free stuff.  Companies need to do the same too.

Final thought:  To all the companies…It’s true, I may not be employed with you for the next 20 years but we could have a good 3-to 5-to 7-year run in which I do right by you and you do right by me.  Loyalty, redefined.


A Parent’s Confession

April 12, 2011

Why he is raising a kid you may not want to hire.

I recently had a conversation with a dad who has a senior in high school.  As we chatted about his son and I gently probed his parenting tactics he looked at me sheepishly and said…“I know I am creating a kid that one day companies won’t want to hire.”  Due to his divorce and subsequent marriage to his second wife, he had to move his son across the country and drop him into a family with two step-sisters.  Because the dad felt guilty of the changes (and was at a point in his career where he could financially step back from working) he stayed home.  He also began to cater to his son.  He spends his mornings making lunches and doing laundry, running carpool throughout the day and trying to make his kid’s life easier. 

Now it’s easy to throw punches and pass judgment.  But if you had the benefit that I did to talk openly with this father you can understand his desire to “make things better and easier” for his kid.  He is being a parent after all, and as a parent myself, I recognize that desire, no matter how misguided.  It is a constant internal ‘heart vs. head’ struggle.  And the reality is, this dad knows better and he readily admits it. 

Though the depth of our parenting may be debatable, for the most part how we raise (or don’t) our children defines who they become.  And the person they grow up to be – their values, expectations, work ethic – is the one who arrives at your company on their first day. 

This isn’t a new debate about the Millennial (or Gen Y) generation.  It is an ongoing conversation we all, including the Millennials, will continue to deal with, talk about, debate and try to fix.  Are they coddled?  Must even those in last place get a trophy?  Do they have an over-inflated sense of self-importance?  Must they act so entitled? 

Truth is not all parents coddle, not all kids get trophies when they come in last, and not all think too highly of themselves or feel entitled.  And unfortunately some are all of those things.  As the oldest Millennials start to become parents (they are officially in their 30s now) it will be interesting to see how they parent.  And will give me something else to research, study and debate.  Bring it on!

What are your thoughts on the lasting effects of parenting and how has that impacted the Millennial generation?


No Lights at Wrigley Field

October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010:  My husband and I are big baseball fans (my husband is stat and player focused, I just love the game).  We spent our birthdays one year stuffed on a bus with 30 other folks hitting five stadiums in six days that took us from Pittsburgh to Toronto with a few stops in between.  Our goal is to see games in all 30 stadiums.  We have 11 down and 19 more to go.  He prefers the NY Yankees and I am a Boston Red Sox fan.  (Yes we have heard a million times “well I’m sure that makes for an interesting marriage”…and yes, it does.) 

As the baseball season ends and we head into the playoffs I just finished an interesting book that relates how companies can learn to win from a “cursed” team’s errors.  For baseball fans you know that team is the Chicago Cubs.  John Charles Kunich, co-author of “Cubs Fans’ Leadership Secrets” hits on a few of the cursed highlights and how to take the lessons and apply them to creating and growing strong, healthy companies. One of my favorites is the Cubs refusing to allow night baseball at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs were the last team in the major league to put up lights so the game could be played at dark.  They held out till 1988.  As Kunich writes, “Some critics have suggested that the long delay in adding lights had more to do with penny-pinching than tradition-hugging on the part of the team owners.  There may be elements of truth to both views.”  He continues, “The lights-out crusade became emblematic of the Cubs emphasis, or over-emphasis, on their glorious past and their gorgeous, venerable, green cathedral of baseball.” 

This had me thinking about how many companies settle on the reason of not trying something or taking a risk because tradition or “the way we’ve always done it” gets in the way.  How many of you work for or have worked for companies that fail to realize their true potential – in the Cubs’ situation a financial potential – because they don’t embrace taking risks or bucking tradition.  If there is one upside to the recession it is forcing companies to realize they can’t do what they have always done and get the to next level or even survive the next couple of years. 

What are your thoughts?  The first two people to leave a meaningful comment about companies taking or not taking risks or embracing change will win a free, autographed copy of Kunich’s book “Cubs Fans’ Leadership Secrets.”  Once you leave your comment please email me at with your name and shipping address.  *I reserve the right to deny any winner that claims to be a Yankee fan.  Just kidding.  But I do reserve the right to determine if your comment is meaningful and worthy of the book prize.


Millennials Talking Recession

April 30, 2009

I have completed a number of interviews with Millennials (aka Gen Y, those under 30 years old) that have been laid off either this year or since the beginning of 2008.  Even though the topic is somewhat depressing I have found the conversations to be interesting and found hope that this generation is taking their current situation in stride (for the most part).

As a generational consultant I am often asked my opinion on how the recession and subsequent layoffs will affect the Millennial generation.  Well I think most of what is written about this generation isn’t always based on what they have to say so I think it is important to ask them.  So the first phase is the one-on-one interviews and then phase two is an online survey which will follow in late May/early June.  I am also considering a third phase to survey Millennials who are graduating (or recently graduated) and having a hard time finding work.  There needs to be quantitative data on how Millennials who have been laid off feel about the recession, being laid off and their view on their future plans and working for Corporate America (or working for anyone for that matter).

As I wrap up the interviews this week there have been two comments from two different Millennials that struck me that I want to share.

The first is Kristin, a former consulting firm recruiter in the Southeast.  She may be only 27 but this experience has taught her to be reflective.  When asked what do you talk about when discussing the economy with your friends she answered, “Our generation has never experienced this before.  We graduated and jobs were available left and right. We’ve never had to realize what it’s like to not have it all.”  And Adam, 24 years old, who worked for a financial services company was quick to answer the question Do you think this layoff will impact you when you are 45.  He said, “Absolutely. This will always be present in my mind and I expect it will stay with me for a long time.”

Now these are just two comments and certainly may not be representative of the entire Millennial generation but I believe they do speak volumes of what is going on in the heads of Millennials and will impact the decisions they make in the future regarding career choice, company choice and who to look out for first.  I heard more than once that this experience will force them to “look out for number one.”  Other comments were “companies aren’t loyal to employees,” and “management made a series of poor decisions and we paid the consequences for it.”

But as a 24 year-old from New York City who was laid off from Crain Communications stated, “I’m lucky to be young and to have more flexibility to deal with this.”

Stay tuned for more on ‘Millennials Talking Recession’ and if you are a Millennial that has been laid off and would like to participate in our upcoming survey please send your name, age, city and email address to

[Each Millennial referenced in this blog gave their permission.]

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