Hmm…. the dreaded L-word. No, I’m not talking about “the” L-word that makes hearts skip a beat the first time it’s uttered to a significant other.

I’m talking about loyalty – in the workplace.

Would you be surprised to learn that 80% of respondents in a Gallup Workforce survey said they had redefined what loyalty meant to them as the years went by?

There was a time when “one company for life” was the norm, as highlighted in my earlier article on shifting relationship paradigms. “Now, 18-24 months in a role is pretty stock standard. Gone is the career ladder, replaced by a career diamond where workers expand their skills and experience laterally, before ascending the pecking order if they are that way inclined.”

Loyalty and commitment are now linked to the job at hand. You’re hired to perform specific tasks, and most people aim to execute to the best of their ability. However, once this is mastered, the next opportunity (more pay, more responsibility, more growth) is sought. You’ve paid me a, I’ve completed a – thanks very much, see you later.

Employers are more commitment-phobic. The rise of platforms such as Expert360, Freelancer and Airtasker, ever-increasing engagement of consultants and obsession with ‘right sizing’ is testament of that.

The workplace has become transactional. More employees are climbing into the driver’s seat (and rightfully so) of their own careers. Climbing the corporate ladder leaves too much at the often merciless hands of others. In the traditional corporate ladder model, growth (either in skills, leadership or money) can be too easily hindered.

So how can we have greater control over how and where we add value? My top 3 tips:

  1. Know your unique value proposition (UVP)

What makes you, you? I.e. The combination of personality traits, quirks, strengths, experience and skills that you and you alone possess. Did you know there is only a 1 in 33 million chance of someone having identical Gallup Strengths ratings as you? Know your UVP, then be able to articulate it well. You never know who you’ll bump into at the airport lounge, in the elevator or the local coffee shop.

  1. Know where you want to be

This is often the hardest part! Understanding where you want to go career-wise will help you make better decisions. You may not have a clear path, you may have high expectations. Take the time to flesh this out, then enlist potential co-pilots who can get you there. And if you’re unsure how to get there – find someone who’s already at your desired destination and ask them!

  1. Always be learning

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to research the critical skills needed in the future. I want you to abolish the notion learning only happens in a classroom. With a plethora of learning options of all shapes, sizes, formats and duration, there’s no excuse not to start today, for a better tomorrow. Many are even free, you just need to search.

Did you know a modern degree lasts you about five years before it’s completely irrelevant?

Now that you understand the new reality of workplace loyalty, how will you keep ahead of the talent curve?