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Industries that value loyalty

  1. Apr 25, 2010 #1
    I'm about to graduate with a PhD in Physics, and I'm looking to start a career in industry.

    Are there any companies that value employee loyalty, and offer it in return?

    I find myself bitter towards my advisor for treating me like a piece of equipment, and not offering guidance with regards to developing my career. I feel that I genuinely care about him, and was working insane hours to advance his career, and that this concern for his well being was minimally reciprocated.

    When interacting with potential employers, I find myself hyper vigilant and on guard for any sign that they have minimal concern for their employees well being. I'm sure that this defensiveness is not making a good impression.

    I think that if some professionals told me something along the lines of "Nope, loyalty is really hard to find now a days", I wouldn't waste my time looking for it.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2010 #2

    mgb_phys

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    The mafia and the catholic church? - other than that, no
     
  4. Apr 25, 2010 #3

    f95toli

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    No, those days are long gone; nowadays you won't even find it in countries like Japan.
     
  5. Apr 25, 2010 #4

    D H

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    I disagree with mgb_phys and f95toli. I work for a company that is very loyal to its employees. This is not the place to name my employer. I can generalize though. Many successful small technical companies (body shops excluded) are quite loyal to their employees. Part of their success comes from this loyalty.

    Suppose you work for a large company and the work you are doing dries up (loss of contract, the company decides to shut down some aspect of its work, ...) The company might (might) try to find a spot for you, but unless you are highly valued they won't try very hard. Even if you are a highly valued employee, failure to find a spot will mean bye-bye.

    Now suppose you work for a small technical, non-body shop company and your work dries up. That company might well find some make-work job or let you work on a IR&D project while they try to find a spot for you elsewhere. The principals will put pressure on project managers to find a spot for you. If things get real tough the company might ask everyone to work reduced hours for a while so they don't have to let anyone go. Most employees will likely to go along this because they don't want to see their coworkers let go and because of the loyalty shown by the employer when those little bumps were hit.

    Largesse can only go so far. Sometimes things can get so tough that even the most employee-loyal company has no choice but to let people go. So far that hasn't happened with my employer. We haven't let anyone go, ever. We did have to ask people to work reduced hours seven years ago. We recovered. I have been asked multiple times to help find places for people who are (temporarily) working on overhead.

    My employer is far from unique. Many small companies are like this.
     
  6. Apr 25, 2010 #5

    Choppy

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    I think it depends on what you mean by "loyalty."

    When you're working for a company (compared to putting in time as a student) your employer will have contractual obligations that you and they agree to when you're hired, or when your contract is renegotiated. You will have legal recourse to follow if they are not met. The same is true the other way around.

    It's in your favour, when you start any job, to understand as much as you can about your terms of employment: renumeration, vacation, sick time, pension, overtime compensation, intellectual property, etc. - it pays to read the fine print. And if you don't like the deal they're offering, you have the option to walk.

    It's also in your favour not to expect a company to take care of you. I grew up in a GM town, and I've seen lots of people end up in not-so-great situations because they expected the company to take care of them when they retired. These were hard-working, loyal people.
     
  7. Apr 25, 2010 #6
    A company that you own would be loyal to you.
     
  8. Apr 25, 2010 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    I side with the pessemists: although smaller companies will tend to 'care about you' more (mostly because you represent an investment- the company spent a lot of money on you), in general you are fungible commodity:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungible

    and will be treated as such by management.
     
  9. Apr 25, 2010 #8

    lisab

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    Of course *every* company values loyalty. They want it from you, but it's highly unlikely they will return the favor. Unfortunately, it's much like your experiences with your advisor.

    If you're looking for a company that values its employees, one way to determine that is the benefits package. Look for "family friendly" policies: paid paternity leave or generous sick leave/vacation policies, for example.

    Also look for companies that are serious about professional development of their employees.
     
  10. Apr 25, 2010 #9
    None that I can think of.

    However, the good news is that there are *people* that value loyalty. You will work for a company that will get rid of you the mini-second they think they can save a dollar on the bottom line. However, if you are decent to your co-workers, you'll find that those networks of trust become really, really useful after the company has gotten rid of all of you.
     
  11. Apr 25, 2010 #10
    Probably not. Worse yet, it's not doing any good. You know that manager who is super loyal to his employees you're looking for? His manager doesn't care.

    Personally I prefer it that way; at least everyone knows what the game is.
     
  12. Apr 25, 2010 #11
    This doesn't work. Almost no one I know who is a salaried employee in high technology in the United States works under any sort of contract. Everything is "employment at will" which means that the employer can fire you or cut your salary or benefits for any reason that is not illegal.

    The employer will give you a benefits package, but all of it is policy and none of it is contractual. Contracts only exist for 1) people that are contractors 2) people that belong to unions and 3) senior management. I've worked for over a decade, and outside of brief periods were I've been an independent contractor, I've never been under any sort of contract.

    (This applies to the United States. Europe is very different.)

    Conversely, it's somewhat pretty liberating to realize that you don't really owe the company anything, and you can leave if they treat you badly.
     
  13. Apr 25, 2010 #12
    I don't care that his manager doesn't care. My experience has been that people tend to switch companies once every few years, and if someone has treated you nicely at one company, you tend to want to treat them nicely when situations have changed.

    I was in a situation where the company was shutting down a branch at which point, the managers going rather high up where all trying to help each other both before and after the layoff. When my ex-manager's ex-manager found some job leads, he was pretty active at sharing them with us.

    It's rather odd to see people after the masks comes off. I remember a conservation a few months after the layoffs, when we were having drinks at a local restaurant and I had a conversation that went like this....

    Me: So how much of what you were saying in the last few months were lies?
    HR: Pretty much all of it, you didn't actually believe anything I was saying?
    Me (laughing): Of course not. I wasn't that stupid.
    HR: I didn't think you were *smile*.
     
  14. Apr 25, 2010 #13

    D H

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    You guys are ... hmmm ... a sign of the decline of America?

    Sadly, the pessimism and antipathy exhibited in this thread is fairly well-deserved. One does need to look out for number one these days. Most employers do not care a whole lot about their employees beyond the fact that unsatisfied employees have this nasty habit of reducing the bottom line. Most, but definitely not all.

    There is little feeling at all when large companies lay people off in droves. They're just doing business. That is not the case with many (but probably not most) small companies. Having to lay people off is one of the worst nightmares of the principals of these companies. They will eat deeply into their profits and beyond to forestall this nightmare.
     
  15. Apr 25, 2010 #14
    There are a few (naive/idealistic) reasons I went into physics.

    1) Make a positive impact in the world
    2) I thought there was more of a demand for physicists
    3) Intellectually challenging
    4) My role model was MacGyver/Learn apocalypse survival skills.

    As I prepare to enter the real world, I'm learning that

    1) I'm too busy trying/learning to sell myself and look out for numero uno to make a positive impact.
    2) Physicists are not in high demand. Unless you have a highly desired specific set of skills.
    3) My brain doesn't work well when it's preoccupied with morally gray/black issues and job security.
    4) MacGyver is a fictional character/unless I learn the secret proprietary formula for photoresist, I will not be able to reconstruct technology from the ashes of civilization.

    Give me a few years, and I'm sure I can mold myself into the ideal self absorbed sales man/douchebag. But if that's what I have to become, why didn't I go into law or business?

    I'm seriously considering farming for a year or two. Take some time to recharge the batteries. But I'm told that if you leave the field for a couple years, it's really hard to get back into...
     
  16. Apr 25, 2010 #15

    Pengwuino

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    Because it's a sliding scale.
     
  17. Apr 26, 2010 #16

    Andy Resnick

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    I don't understand how one implies the other. Part of being competitive means you get rid of what is no longer needed.
     
  18. Apr 26, 2010 #17
    Hardly. One good thing about the US is that people can move from industry to industry pretty quickly.

    It depends on what you mean by "employer." There is the person who is your manager and the people that are your co-workers. There is also the nameless, faceless corporation that pays your paycheck. You want good relations with your manager and co-workers. The nameless, faceless corporation is not human, so you don't have much loyalty to it.

    Lack of loyalty to the corporation may be a good thing in some situations. If for example, I thought that what I was doing was unethical or bad for the country or the planet, I'd leave. If I saw something blatantly illegal going on, I wouldn't have any problem calling the SEC since I *do* have loyalty to the US.

    On the other hand, I've been laid off at least twice, and it's going to happen several more times in my career. What's happened to me is that every time I've been laid off, I've been able to find a better job, so being laid off doesn't scare me a huge amount. It's really weird because in the times that I have been laid off, it's been harder for the manager than for me. The last layoff was really weird because the manager was sad and tearful, whereas I was in a pretty good mood since the job I was getting laid off from wasn't that great anyway.
     
  19. Apr 26, 2010 #18
    The good sales people I know are great listeners and very customer-focused. Sure there are salesman that are jerks, but there are physicists that are jerks too.

    Because physics is fun? Also because you get an advanced degree without going into horrendous debt.
     
  20. Apr 26, 2010 #19

    D H

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    Small companies are not nameless, faceless corporations. That starts happening when companies grow to 100-150 employees, but the transition does not become complete until the number of employees is on the order of 1000. I'll see if I can dig up some stats, but that will have to wait until this evening. The principals of small (< 120 employees) companies tend to know everyone who works for them.

    I was economically convinced to leave one job and was laid off from another. The former was my Sesame Street moment. I had an employer who was two months behind on salary, a new house, and a pregnant wife. "One of these things does not belong with the other." With the latter circumstance, an entire branch of my then-employer had its contract abruptly terminated. In both cases I bounced back stronger than before.

    I am not advocating abdicating the looking out for number one principle. That would be silly. Even the best of employers can have things go south in a very bad way. They might lose key contracts or they might be gobbled up by some large faceless company.
     
  21. Apr 26, 2010 #20
    Don't IBM look after their employees? Everyone seems to think they are wonderful to work for.
     
  22. Apr 26, 2010 #21
    Until the owner sells the company, and the new boss has no loyalty to anyone or anything. I've seen this happen too. In small companies it's hard to separate the boss from the corporation, but only until new management steps in.

    Multimillion dollar checks can be attractive no matter how loyal the current owner is. And there's the fact that people simply retire or get tired of the business or whatever.
     
  23. Apr 26, 2010 #22
    There are plenty of companies that are wonderful to work for. Sometimes people are willing to accept less pay to work at a company that infrequently lays people off - so avoiding layoffs can be a good HR strategy. A lot of companies went with furloughs, salary freezes and cuts, benefits cuts, etc, rather than lay people off during this recession. They calculated that it was cheaper and easier to go this route than to lay people off.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with looking after employees or being loyal. It has to do with the bottom line and with execs earning their bonuses. Many of the companies making these cuts continued to make a profit through the recession. The cuts were optional, but they thought they could get away with them. They may have sold them to many of their employees, and the savings probably were worth it to the company. Most US corporations have a moral and legal duty to produce profits above all else. Corporations are loyal to shareholders, not employees, by law. Any benefit to employees is a side effect.

    It just so happens that employees who enjoy their work and respect their company are productive and make money. Great companies will be great employers - just don't mistake this for loyalty.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  24. Apr 26, 2010 #23

    Kerrie

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    Agreed 100%. I was employed by a small family company that gave me top benefits, but no matter how valuable I made myself to that company, in the end I still got laid off. The great thing about America is we have the opportunity to work for ourselves although self employment taxes can be higher than working for a company. Can someone be a self-employed physicist?
     
  25. Apr 26, 2010 #24
    No such company will keep you just for loyalty. No matter how dedicated you are to it, they will cut you to save costs/revenue. The below quote by kote pretty much sums it up:

    Even for small companies, you are just "another expendable employee" unless you are the owner of that company. I've worked for small companies so far and I'm still just a number to them... a small number though. Running your own business is the only answer to your question.
     
  26. Apr 26, 2010 #25
    I can go through corporate and securities law but this isn't true. (For example, in general, corporations do not have fiduciary duties to individual shareholders, and actions that are not in the interests of shareholders are generally not reviewed because of the business judgement rule.) Directors and senior managers have a duty to act in the interests of the corporation, but what exactly that means is something quite murky, but it's clear from both case law and statutory law that corporations can make charitable donations even if it reduces profits.

    What happens in large corporations is that shareholders are usually more or less irrelevant, and the power of the corporation is in the senior management. Senior management likes to tell people how they are forced to do certain things by law, when they in fact aren't.
     
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