It's obvious why companies want to have loyal employees.

Loyal employees are less likely to leave, more likely to behave the way the company wants them to, and may possibly work for lower pay.

But does it make sense for a person to feel loyalty towards a corporation?

Is a corporation not an entity that exists purely to facilitate its own survival, while generating profits for shareholders? To a corporation, isn't a person nothing more than an income-producing asset, to be discarded once it has outlived its usefulness?

Doesn't loyalty mean something irrational, something that goes beyond mere 'fair exchange'... which implies that the loyal employee is giving more to the company than they are getting back?
 
Are corporations even perhaps laughing behind their backs at our loyalty, or simply bemused by it?

Author Jon Ronson profiled the notorious American businessman Al Dunlap.

At a plant in Mobile, Alabama, Mr Dunlap asked a man how long he'd worked there.

"Thirty years!" the man proudly replied.

"Why would you want to stay with a company for thirty years?" Dunlap said, looking genuinely perplexed.

He then fired the man. (Dunlap recounts the story himself, with glee, which is probably why he ended up in a book called 'The Psychopath Test'.)

But if Dunlap is suspicious of people who stay too long, it has to be said that we are also suspicious of those who move too much. 

Do they have itchy feet, or is it that they keep getting found out?

Obviously there are times when it makes sense to move. There might be family reasons, or you might be at an agency that has gone downhill, or you've gone stale.

But let's not forget that moving carries risk.

You see, there's a strange phenomenon in our industry.

A talented team will do great work, take the opportunity to move to another agency for more money or better opportunities... and then not get anything out for a year.

Happens loads.

There seems to be something helpful about 'knowing the ropes' at a place. It takes about a year to figure out which briefs are 'fools' gold' (look fantastic but are in fact worthless), which people you need to get on the right side of, and the often-mysterious process by which work actually emerges.

So that's an argument for staying put.

Also, commitment brings psychological benefits. 

I remember talking to a Creative at Goodby, who was telling me that he had moved around a lot in the past, but had now decided to "really put down some roots - and commit to a place."

I like that. If you're not thinking of a place in terms of what you can get out of it, but instead in terms of what you can give... you're actually likely to get more out of it too.

So although there are arguments on both sides, I'm going to come down in favour of commitment.

Yes, it could be seen as slightly irrational to feel loyalty towards a corporate entity. And yet... if that company embodies a set of values you believe in, and contains a group of people you like and respect, then loyalty does make sense, does it not?

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