When we think about what an ideal employee population would look like within an organization, the words loyal and engaged would probably be amongst the adjectives you’d chose to describe them. But, what if you had to chose just one of the two? Which is most important?
Loyalty or Engagement?
I suspect that if you surveyed many business leaders and CEO’s, they might say that loyalty is most important. Afterall, we invest a lot in people and we want them to stick around. A loyal employee probably won’t even flirt with another opportunity or dream about leaving. You can count on them because they never plan on leaving. Loyalty is comforting when you are the leader.
Engagement on the other hand means that the employees probably love what they are doing and they are excited to do it. They are giving the company more than asked for because they are all in with the work they are doing. Engaged employees are fun to work with because they create energy through their relationship with their work. But, there is engaging work to do in many places so they may be open to other opportunities from the first day they joined your organization.
Which is better? Engagement might out perform loyalty in the short-run, but that employee might leave you at any time if a better, more engaging opportunity comes along. Loyalty buys you effort over the long haul, but might that loyalty turn into complacency over time? Could loyalty mean staying longer than is healthy?
Of course, the ideal answer is both. But, that may not be practical. Which will it be for you?