What price loyalty?

Last week we saw the reports of the Virgin employee who was accused, and later resigned, of passing details of celebrities arriving at Heathrow to a picture agency.


The question it raises is what price loyalty of the employee to their employer?

In this situation there seems to be recognition from the employee that they did something wrong in the fact that they resigned. Ultimately it can be argued that Virgin’s brand has suffered because they could be seen to be not a trusted carrier by it wealthier clients. As a by-product they have obtained some publicity and as the old saying goes ‘there is no such thing s bad publicity’.

But the wider issue here is are employers entitled to loyalty from employees as a right. Most employment contracts would cater from confidentiality but they cannot enforce loyalty to a brand. Loyalty is surely built by the deed and actions of the employer to the employee and the mutual trust and respect that both have for each other.

There are numerous examples of companies who have gained the loyalty of their staff by their deeds and actions, from family run businesses that treat their employees as one of the family to major organisations that frequently come out on top of the best companies survey. These companies generally have staff that become advocates of the brand and are proud to work for the organisation, proud to be seen wearing the uniform or staff badge in public.


Companies like John Lewis and even McDonalds have got a reputation for staff loyalty. But in general terms employee loyalty is not what use to be. Employees are more aware of their value and are more prone to switch jobs rather than stick with one employer. People are more career conscious and have greater career expectations than I days gone by.

Going back to the Virgin story we don’t know the full story as to the motivation of the employee to do what they did, we can assume financial reward but maybe there was a feeling of being special to be party to such information.

In summary employers can’t take loyalty for granted, they can cultivate it through how they treat their employees; the employer/employee is most successful when there is a bond of mutual trust and respect.