LOYALTY IN BUSINESS IS A TWO-WAY STREET.

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Are employees loyal to their companies and vice-versa? In the cynical 1990s, any phrase combining "loyalty" and "business" likely will raise more eyebrows than spirits. This wasn't always the case, points out John J. Casey, professor of engineering, Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.), and author of The Old Dispensation: Loyalty in Business. The decline of corporate loyalty--among both workers and management--may well be symptomatic of a fundamental change in the American character in recent years.

"There is a perception that the decline in loyalty began with downsizing, but it really predates that. Employee loyalty has waned partially as a result of managerial practices, but the roots lie in a much more profound social change--a change tied to new attitudes held by both a new generation of employees and a new generation of managers....

"Older workers tend to display more loyalty to their companies; sometimes the company can't do anything bad enough to shake them. When IBM made their first layoffs in the late 1980s--which they'd never done before--some downsized workers nevertheless remained loyal, rationalizing their own job loss and making excuses for the company.

"The youngest cohort simply don't expect loyalty. They tend to see employment in purely transactional terms. They hope to learn something, and they trust the company will...

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