We've been hearing it for some time. Industry experts insist that "loyalty is dead." Employees are always looking for the next job. Millennials are more interested in freelance work than long-term employment. Companies don't seem to be interested in loyalty, either. They figure they owe an employee reasonable pay and a decent work environment--until they don't need that employee any longer.
Can you imagine if we applied the same thinking to other relationships? We're part of a loving family, until one of us finds a better deal?
Let's say you're sitting in on the family farm discussion in 1900. A massive tornado has just come through and flattened all the crops. Everyone's livelihood is at stake.
Chances are, getting rid of Grandma isn't the first move on the agenda. So the conversation naturally turns to other options. Someone notes that plenty of neighbors have lost more than crops, they've lost homes. Our family could offer to help them rebuild, at a price. We could provide these neighbors child care while the repairs are being done. We could even cook and sell meals to those whose kitchens were damaged. In the meantime? We'll be sharpening our farm tools and removing stumps from the back 40, getting it ready for next year's crops.
Granted, things have changed. Working for a family business is no longer commonplace, and neither is that kind of loyalty. But there are exceptions, as we reported in June: Some companies resolved to put loyalty ahead of layoffs even in the face of Covid-19. As the pandemic drags on, however, the question is whether those companies have been able to sustain their commitment.
To find out, we revisited Adams + Beasley Associates, custom builders located in the greater Boston area, and saw firsthand how the company responded to its own tornado. From March through June, work came to a standstill. Instead of meeting around the kitchen table, founders Eric Adams and Angus Beasley set up all-employee Zoom meetings. First thing: The owners assured everyone they still had a place at the table. Then they asked each person to think of specific things that they could do to improve the business in the near-term.
In a few days, over 100 ideas poured in. Several employees, stuck working from home, said they would call current and past clients to see how they were doing and ask what help they might need when the shutdown ended. Others installed a new information system to process invoices more efficiently. Others cleaned and organized the millwork shop, readying tools for new projects. And they were productive.
Adams + Beasley managed to keep its clients and even gained a few during the shutdown. Today, it has gone back to work. Despite the four lost months, the company projects a strong profit in 2020, and expects to set new records for sales and profits in 2021. The staff created a short video for the leadership, titled, "Thanks for keeping the band together."
At one of the all-employee meetings, a project manager had something else to add. He'd spoken with a friend, a project manager at another company, where the outlook was grim. "In contrast to your situation, we have no idea what is going on," the friend told him. "Five of us were fired last week. Everyone assumes more will be fired. Let me know if and when Adams + Beasley is hiring."
The time happens to be now. Very selectively, Adams + Beasley is adding seats to the table. The company is looking for qualified skilled workers. But most important, it's looking for people who fit well with the rest of the family.