Do We Care About Our Employers Anymore?

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6-10 Cubicle creativity

Several months back I wrote a post about whether or not Employers Care About Their Employees Anymore and it created a nice little discussion about the state of the working place and what that might mean for us as individuals. As an aside, as I was researching this post, when I did some Google searching for today’s topic nearly all the articles I saw were related to Obamacare and what businesses may do in the upcoming months. While it’s not the point of this post, that was interesting to see. It seemed as if the general consensus of the responders to my previous post was that large businesses, in general, do not really care much about many of their employees and that by far, smaller businesses are the ones that do care about their employees. That said, I thought it would be interesting to look at it from the other vantage point and discuss whether or not we as employees care about our employers anymore.

The Economic Downsizing Has Done a Funny Thing

In my previous post I discussed the conversation my family had over Christmas break in which my Dad said that companies do not care about their employers anymore and my younger brothers argued that they never really did. The picture my Dad painted was one of the “good ole’ times” where you put in your 30 or 40 years with one company and you would retire with a nice pension, social security you could count on and a gold watch. I am not an economist but I do know that we have had numerous recessions since my Dad’s generation joined the workforce, but how many of them were as bad as The Great Recession? The Great Recession caused, on some level, businesses to cut back and the area that many chose to cut back on was on the number of employees they carried. It seemed as if every day there were more companies announcing layoffs and cutbacks and you were almost guaranteed to know someone who had lost their job. I was able to come through relatively unscathed with only a 3% pay cut but still had my job. As we look back we can see the impact of these decisions on the unemployment rate and ability for many people to retain decent jobs. We personally know others who’ve had to resort to things like taking on multiple jobs to make ends meet. The other big thing that I believe we have seen arise out of this is a desire from people to exert greater control over their livelihood and do things like start their own businesses. I believe this is a stark difference in what my father’s generation saw and has created, to a certain extent, a climate where we are acting in light of the changing corporate culture. The question that rolls around in my mind now is what impact this shifting sand will have.


Is this a Generational Issue?

The argument my father made in regards to my brothers’ beliefs is that they come from Gen Y and thus are generally out for themselves. While his statement was just a bit of an overgeneralization I do believe that he struck a chord that we hear ringing in the marketplace today. In prior generations individuals (in general) were more comfortable staying with their employer for years and it was frowned upon if you were job hopping. Bring this forward to Gen Y and job hopping is almost expected. According to this Forbes article 91 percent of Gen Y’ers polled expected to be in their jobs less than three years and expect to have 15 to 20 jobs over their lifetimes. Is this necessarily a bad thing? I think not. I think it points to what the article states as Gen Y’ers generally want to work for companies that share their values and I think that’s great and is part of the reason why I left my last job as a stockbroker. Beyond that, more individuals are moving to a freelancing or entrepreneurial mindset as recent studies have shown that 1 in 3 workers find themselves in this type of situation. With that in mind, I think to put it all as a generational issue is a generalization and is only part of the change I believe we’re seeing. I think it’s a shift of people wanting to not be tied to a corporation and being more comfortable with the idea of starting something on their own and have it be something fulfilling as opposed to merely a generational issue.

Regardless if You do or Dont, What does that Mean for you?

Going back to the purpose of this post, I think there is a growing number of individuals that do not care about their employers to a certain extent and I believe that it requires introspection to see if that is you. I think it’s beyond not being happy in your job, but being truly fulfilled and caring, or lack of caring, about your employer. In a certain sense, it is a natural reaction to the changing corporate culture we have been seeing over the last number of years. If you find yourself in this situation, or even if you don’t, it requires looking inward to determine what this means for you. This culture we see ourselves in is one that requires us to be adaptable and open to change. We have seen this in the corporate landscape and if a large firm can change then so can you. It may not be as easy, but it can be done. As much as I dislike the term on some levels, it requires you to be mindful of your ‘personal brand’ and what you want it to communicate. Speaking personally, I found that my brand did not mesh with my last job, so much so in fact that it was the final kick in the pants I needed to take the plunge. It also requires you to view your career as your business, regardless if you run your own business or not. It means that you need to be mindful of what’s going to put you in the best position to further yourself and benefit your long term potential. It means simply that whether or not you do care about your employer, you grow yourself so that you can be able to make the changes necessary over the span of your career to put you in the position you want.


What are your thoughts? Do you see a growing lack of care towards employers and if so how do you think that will continue to play out?


Photo courtesy of: Tina Lawson

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

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  • Matt Becker says:

    Really interesting topic. I think that with all of the tools available today, we as individuals have more ability than ever to dictate our own lives. That’s incredibly empowering, but it’s also scary, especially since it’s not really what we’re taught in school.

    On another angle, it’s really interesting to flip the conversation like you did. People talk all the time about companies not caring about their employees, but it’s a great question: how many employees truly care about their company? And I don’t mean care about the benefits they get like their salary or retirement plan. How many people would take a pay cut to help their employer? My guess is not many, but that’s essentially what they’re asking their employers to do when business gets bad. Now obviously there are examples of unfair corporate practices, but I really like how if the question is turned the other way, maybe there’s more of a two-way street than the popular conversation lets on.

    • John says:

      Thanks Matt! I think you bring up some very valid points that are worthwhile. I agree, we do have increased ability to dictate how we want to live our professional lives, which can be both good and bad.

  • Thomas says:

    I think for the most part large corporations understand as the employees to that they both are out the please themselves. Most companies simply want to make money and if you can’t help them make more they will find someone who can. Same for employees its about building resumes and skills and moving to the next position and jobs. Now more then ever people say they don’t have to take crap from companies and many just live off the system instead of taking jobs they dont want. Times have changed since my grandparents and parents started working. Its common to have 10+ jobs and I see nothing wrong with it.

    • John says:

      I completely agree Thomas. I think it has become much more of a two way street and both sides do tend to look out for themselves than ever before. These are definitely interesting times we live in.

  • Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says:

    Interesting post. I think times are different between when your Dad worked and now in that yes our parents stayed at one job their whole life, but that doesn’t mean they were taken care of necessarily. Just like back then there was less divorce. It doesn’t mean that couples were happier then. Back then, it was shunned upon to get a divorce and it was hard for the woman to earn a living. No, it’s much easier to earn a living as a woman and divorce is no longer taboo. The same applies for wanting to work a job that makes you happy. That is why I jumped around. I figured if I am going to spend the majority of my life working a job, I better find something I really enjoy doing and someone I care about working for.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jon. I agree times a re very different. I think many more will job hop to find that job they really enjoy and I think it’s a good thing to do, to a certain extent.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I definitely see a growing lack of care towards employers these days. Everyone at my work seems to be really happy with our employer…until they get recruited for another company for higher pay and/or a better title. I imagine it’s the same way at other companies, especially large corporations.

  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    So long as there are more people than there are jobs employers can afford to be a bit less caring towards their staff as they are easily replaceable.

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life says:

    Interesting topic! For me, I won’t care about a company that doesn’t care about me. That said, if a company is willing to invest in me, motivate me, and treats me well, I would be inclined to stay with that company for a long time, or remain loyal even when times are tough.

    Unfortunately, that typically isn’t the case, and so I think that employees are just being weary of companies that continually put their own profits above employee welfare.

    • John says:

      Thanks Jordann! I would agree with you. If I can find a company that I can tell cares for me and values me then I’ll do all I can for them, sadly that is not really much the case these days.

  • pauline says:

    For me it is purely a business agreement. I sacrifice my time working for you in exchange for a salary. Don’t pretend you care, don’t hope I’ll pretend. My last company was crap but people loved to pretend they care and it made them feel better even though I was doing my job better, my boss preferred them.

    • John says:

      I believe that times really do call for that in most cases Pauline. If not, you’re likely just going to be passed by on many fronts.

  • Moneycone says:

    I think it is a two way street. If your employer cares about you, chances are that you will care about your employer.

  • cashrebel says:

    I think it’s a rough transition for some, but they pay is to work hard, not to be loyal. Its weird for me being at a company with an extremely high average tenure. Everyone else feels loyal but I do not…

    • John says:

      I agree Ross, it has been a rough transition for many and they do pay to work hard. I think, though, that many firms have an assumed loyalty but really is not as prevalent these days.

  • Jai Catalano says:

    More and more people are turing to entrepreneurship because work is tough to find. When I used to act and dance full time I had to make my work to be seen. When I got hired I felt great but when I didn’t it was very very depressing.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    I think small or large, it comes down to money in most cases. People tend love you more if they feel they are being compensated well. Sure, they appreciate positive reinforcement or more benefits, but money is the bottom line. Like it or not, that’s the reality of the current job market in most cases. People may take a lower salary job because they are in a bind, but you can bet they are still looking for something better. As and employee, it’s smart to do that. As an employer, I don’t ever take it personally.

    • John says:

      I agree Kim, it often does come down to money. When you add that to not feeling cared for it can make it very easy to start to look around.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    “…91 percent of Gen Y’ers polled expected to be in their jobs less than three years and expect to have 15 to 20 jobs over their lifetimes.” I’ve heard this statistic before John and it is truly remarkable when compared to work habits 40 years ago. It would seem employees care for their employer only to the extent that their employer serves as a springboard towards their next position somewhere else. If a person is going to have this many jobs over the course of their career, then maybe it’s better to not get attached emotionally to the job/company. That would definitely make the separation process easier.

    • John says:

      I agree Brian, which is much of the reason why people of my Dad’s generation are struggling with this. Times definitely have changed which should cause us as employees to be on the look out for how we can improve ourselves and our own situations.

  • Jake @ Common Cents Wealth says:

    I would agree that employees seem to be less loyal to their employers now than they were in the past. I love my company, but I can already tell you that I don’t want to stay with them for more than 5 years. I feel like if I stay there for too long that I’ll get pigeon-holed into a certain industry or job and I don’t want that to happen. Plus, I want to gain experience in some other companies.

    • John says:

      That’s a great point Jake. I find that by moving around you can find things you enjoy and become a more well-rounded person.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    I tend to agree with you, John. More and more it seems that people and employers are out for number 1. That being said, there can be a good, healthy balance of caring for your employer without sacrificing your own needs and goals too. True teamwork still makes for the best success, whether it’s a company of 1 million or 10, and genuine teamwork requires that you care about your employer, at least a little bit.

    • John says:

      That’s a good point Laurie. That balance can be a difficult one to find. My problem is when firms expect that of you as the employee yet do not reward you for it.

  • Greg@Thriftgenuity says:

    A comment that has stuck with me in recent years was from a VP at my last job. He said “you have to watch out most for those people that wave the company flag.” What he meant are those are the folks that are cutthroat and will do anything to get ahead. I think he is right and it is those people that you think of when you think of big companies. I don’t have any loyalties to the companies I work for. It is a matter of am I progressing in my career and reaching the financial goals I have set for myself? If yes, then I will stay and if not, it is time to look elsewhere. That said, if the job entails moral issues, that trumps all other considerations.

    • John says:

      That’s a great point Greg. The moral aspect really does trump everything else in my opinion. It’s much of the reason why I left my last employer. I could not sleep at night because of what they were asking me to do.

  • Canadian Budget Binder says:

    I agree with Glen when there are more people than jobs employers can be picky about who they hire and what they are paying wages for. I think employees want to be appreciated and employers want to make sure they are getting what they pay for. Motivating employees, giving them opportunities, engaging with employees on a overall and personal level dishing out the good and the bad is important. If employers worked with employees and vice versa it would make for a better work environment. Have you ever watched undercover boss? That show strikes a chord with me because more CEO’s and levels of management should know their employees better and get out there so they champion the business rather than treat them like robots.

    • John says:

      I have seen a few episodes and it always just makes me shake my head. It’s crazy to see what some of the CEO’s really think and then they see matters in real life and it’s amusing how shocked they can get.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    Since promoting from within isn’t really a thing anymore, and degrees are practically expected, and employers don’t care about their employees, I think that employees are finally getting that they don’t have to care for their employers. Why should they, when it’s not reciprocal? THe larger the employer, the less the workforce cares.

    • John says:

      That’s a great point Daisy. If it’s not reciprocal then why on earth should we as employees be expected to be loyal to the firm?

  • Budget and the Beach says:

    It’s that that I think companies are “assholes” who don’t treat their employees well, but I do think over time there has become a mutual understanding between employees and employers that you shouldn’t “expect” that you will be at a company forever because when shit goes down and the bottom line is affected, the employees will be the first to feel that affect. I think you should be “loyal” and work hard if you’re at a company, but I also think you need to be on your toes and have your resume updated, continue making connections, always be on the look out for new or better opportunities, etc. And I’m sure employers would not be one bit surprised to hear their employes are doing that because it’s a sign of the times.

  • Michelle says:

    Great post. I really like my employer, and that’s why it is so hard for me to quit. My employer is great, it’s the actual work (the field is very boring) that I’m not interested in.

    • John says:

      I can imagine that would be difficult Michelle. I was on the other extreme when I quit and it was very easy to leave. 🙂

  • Girl Meets Debt says:

    I enjoyed thought-provoking posts on Monday mornings and this was a good one John! For myself personally, the more the company shows that it cares about me first, the more loyal I will be in return. I don’t quite know what my “personal brand” is yet, but I know that even if I don’t achieve it in my 9-5, than I always have the blog to express my views over there 🙂

    • John says:

      Glad you did GMD. 🙂 I would tend to agree, that to the extent the firm shows thy care then I’ll return that in spades. If not, then I must be forced to look elsewhere.

  • My Money Design says:

    Very interesting topic! I can tell you that yes I am in for me and my family. I grew up watching each of my friends’ dads and moms get let go from one job to the other all due to the whims of the automotive market (Michigan). Now that I’m apart of that, I never “drink the koolaid” and let myself believe that I’ll be any different. We all work with at-will employment and they can let you go at any time for any reason. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll be one of their best workers and do an outstanding job. But I’ll always know my place and what could happen at any time. Hence the early retirement strategies ….

    • John says:

      I am in the same place MMD and is much of the reason why I left my last job. The problem is though that many still do not have that mindset and might pay in the long run as a result.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I definitely agree there is a generational gap when it comes to view on employments. Our parents were able to stay in one job their entire working lives and retire comfortably. That world doesn’t seem to exist today. I do remember when job hopping was frowned upon and was a red flag on a resume. Now days, it’s expected and acceptable. I believe there has been a shift in how we perceive work. For our parents and to extent even myself, work was viewed as something you did to support your family. Hopefully you were good at your job and enjoyed it. Today, the view is very different. Yes, you want a job that supports yourself and your family, but making a difference and feeling passionate about your work are also huge priorities and for some people even more important than the amount of money they make.

    • John says:

      I agree Shannon, that world does not seem to exist today and I think there are pluses and minuses of that. It definitely does require a more active role in one’s employment.

  • Nick @ says:

    I believe that most employees don’t care much about their employers these days. My though is that this is because most don’t stay around at one company for their whole lives. Back in the day employees were fiercely loyal to their employers and remained there their whole lives. I think this correlates strongly to the fact that most employers aren’t willing to do what it takes to keep employees around because they can always find cheaper labor elsewhere.

    • John says:

      “because they can always find cheaper labor elsewhere.” I could not agree more Nick. That is definitely prevalent in today’s climate, which should cause us to be more willing to look out for ourselves.

  • krantcents says:

    I think it has to be mutual to work. Employees will care about their employer if they care about them. Unfortunately, it is rare nowadays to have that caring and that is why there is very little loyalty. I saw it firsthand when I was in my forties which was about 25 years ago.

    • John says:

      I agree KC, I think a lot of it does correlate to how much the employer cares. Like you said, finding both sides that care is very rare these days.

  • Midlife Finance says:

    I agree with KC. Companies are run by business people who put the bottom line first. An employee has no loyalty in that situation. A small business with a more personal management structure will endear more loyalty. A big company usually put their employee last.

    • John says:

      I would agree, that is usually the dynamic we see and ultimately I think it means that we need to be aware of how your company actually works and looking for ways to improve yourself…regardless if that is with your current company or not.

  • Debt Blag says:

    I do.

    I still don’t believe people only work at their jobs to get a paycheck. And who you work for is definitely one of the biggest non-material factors people care about.

    • John says:

      I certainly respect your opinion, though I think that those who share that view are declining in numbers in today’s corporate culture. We’re becoming too much of a mobile culture as more and more are looking out for themselves. It’s simply natural in light of how corporate America is increasingly looking at the bottom line over all else.

  • anna says:

    I do agree it’s a generation gap issue – when interviewing prospective employees, I notice some older coworkers who frown upon resumes where people switch jobs every 5 or so years (doubting their loyalty), when I think it’s perfectly reasonable since I would probably draw the line if someone was switching months at a time. I think, too, it’s at times challenging to be loyal to employers, since I’ve had friends in some situations where someone gets laid off, and then next month the company posts the position but at a $10k-20k less than what the person before was making.

    • John says:

      I agree Anna, it can be challenging to be loyal in today’s corporate landscape. Way too many businesses simply look to the bottom line and base all decisions off that. It helps breed that lack of loyalty, which I can certainly understand.

  • John says:

    I agree Jenny. I think there was a solid risk/reward in play there and a lot of the meat of that pension did come in over those final years. I worked at a company in the life insurance industry that still offered a pension and you could tell how those final years were so important to many as they were nearing retirement, so I can understand that feeling.

  • Alexa says:

    I work in a small office of 5 people. I don’t get paid great, I am not in love with my job, and I have no benefits BUT I do care about my employer. I feel like my boss would do anything for me and the people I work with are an extension of my family.

    • John says:

      I think that is very rare to find Alexa, especially in today’s climate. That said, it’s great you have that and would say it would be near impossible to find that in a large company.

  • Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says:

    I believe it is a generational issue, when it comes to larger companies. At the same time, we’re seeing a generation of start-ups and entrepreneurs who pour themselves into their vocation.

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    Good one John. I think that people have a better ability to find other employment, so being loyal to an employer is not really as big a deal anymore. I like being loyal to my employer because I feel it pays me back with opportunities.

    • John says:

      I agree that it’s not as much of a big deal these days. I’ll be loyal to an employer but only to the extent that I can tell that they really care about me and allowing me to grow.

  • Squirrelers says:

    I think that it’s a matter of supply and demand, and who really needs who. In today’s market, which I think is a tough market no matter what any employment reports might claim, employers don’t have to care as much about employees. In prosperity or when there is a shortage of a certain type of skill set, employers all of a sudden care much more!

  • John Haver says:

    I think this is why people are turning to home based jobs and maybe contracting their abilities out instead of working the regular 9-5 in a office setting. Its so much easier to work for your self then be unappreciated by someone that makes a ton more then you and does less work.

  • My Financial Independence Journey says:

    The business climate as a whole is shifting more and more to treating employment as a temporary contract rather than a long-term relationship. You see this both with employer’s willingness to layoff workers at the drop of a hat and in employee’s willingness to job hop at a moment’s notice. Unless of course you work for the government, where they can’t figure you no matter how worthless you are. Personally, I don’t like this situation at all because it ads far too much volatility to a major aspect of my life. And that volatility is one of the main factors that is driving my desire for early financial independence.

    • John says:

      I agree MFIJ, it does add to volatility in the market space. It’s one of those chicken vs. egg issues on one level I think and ultimately comes down to both sides looking out for themselves.

  • Lauren says:

    All in all I think it needs to be mutual. Today I think working is more than just a paycheck for some people and there has been a great shift towards getting more out of work (since we will spend a lot of years doing so). If your company/employers are willing to give you opportunities to grow, and create a workplace setting to allow for that then I personally would really value my employer and treat them with the same respect. That doesn’t mean that I will stay there until the end of my days, but I will really enjoy the time that I do spend there and develop.

  • Thad says:

    Very interesting post. I wonder sometimes if Gen Y understands the connection between their employer’s success and their own success (and I can turn that around on employers as well: if companies don’t understand how they benefit when their employees grow and develop, don’t expect longevity). Trading jobs frequently, all the while expecting to make more money with each change, may be just the way to never grow in your abilities. You don’t accomplish much in an established company in 3 years.

  • Chad | The Stock Market and I says:

    There seems to be a comparable level of care and loyalty for employee to employer as there is employer to employee. Ironically and not coincidentally the movement toward this mentality on both parties seem to, if not start, then accelerate in the 1990s. This is exactly when Gen Y or the millenials where being brought up. That decade was the start of great excesses in the stock market, crazy pay packages and everyone in general was doing pretty well. For me this is when the employee/employer relationship completely decoupled. Companies are now out to make money for themselves (through the stock market and job cuts or off shoring) and employees are always looking for the next big opportunity regardless of where or what it is.

  • Kathy says:

    Looking back at this old post, I decided to post a comment 7 months later….

    First let me say that when I was working, I was a union member and my husband was a labor union president, so we definitely seen the pros of unions. However, in recent years, it seems to me that the unions are really out to put the companies out of business. They demand that bad employees can’t be fired. They demand more employees be retained than needed. They demand that the employees pay zero for their health insurance. They demand (sometimes) exhorbitantly high pensions. They would rather a business move elsewhere instead of take any cut in benefits (Boeing) . Now I believe in the concept of collective bargaining, but when the employees would rather shut down the place where they earn their livelihood, that just seems wrong. So while unions when they started out were definitely good, in recent years it seems that too often they simply act as thug enforcers who really don’t have any interest in the company.

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