Doing some evening web surfing, I came across an intriguing Reddit post entitled "Don't be loyal to your company" that pointed to a blog post. The blog is currently offline, probably due to the Reddit traffic, but a Google cache of the post exists. After reading that post, I felt a visceral need to respond, so that's what I'm doing now.
The author of the aforementioned blog post essentially claims that a corporation does not deserve loyalty because it cannot be loyal to you and will necessarily let you go if doing so increases its bottom line; that the CEO's mandate is to make just those kinds of decisions; and that you have to take control of your career lest you be shackled to an oar (his words). I don't disagree with any of these points. But I do disagree with the overall message and the moral of the story, as it were.
The message should, in my opinion, be to choose your place of employment wisely. That blog post pretty much summed up the reasons why I generally dislike big, soulless corporations. But there are other options out there! I currently work at a ~100 person consulting company. Previously, I was at a <10 person consulting company. And before that I was at university, but during that time I did briefly work at a fairly large insurance company. I got a taste of the large company ethos then, and it was enough to scare me away.
Smaller companies are different. They place more value in the individual. There's little, if any, company politics and bureaucracy. And I think, for the most part, people are happier there. If I were to look at things more cynically, I could say that smaller companies have more incentive to keep employees happy because the loss of one employee at a 50-person company is more painful than the loss of one employee at a 50,000-person company. But I choose not to look at it that way.
I think the reason I felt such a strong need to respond to the blog post in question is that it hits home on some level. I believe that if I were in that author's shoes, having gone through his experiences, I could be just as jaded as he is. In a sense, I'm lucky to have had the chance to see that environment early on and seek opportunities elsewhere. People who know me have seen how cynical I can be about certain topics. But the topic of company loyalty is an exception. I truly believe that it is possible to find a company that isn't soulless, that does in fact care about its employees, and that can even deserve loyalty.