Developing a Workplace Mentorship Program - David Jeansonne

As long as workplaces have existed, companies have behaved badly. And the American workforce has put up with the trickle-down feeling of being disposable—fear, intimidation and uncertainty that undermine job performance and well-being. In “the good old days” corporate honchos told employees what city they would live in, where their office would be, who they would have as coworkers, what their dress code was and which job role they would perform. Workers were required to mold their lives around demands of the company’s iron-fisted approach and profess loyalty to the business over their mental and physical health or family time. If you followed corporate culture’s straight and narrow and didn’t rock the boat, you could retire with the proverbial gold watch and live happily ever after.

After the pandemic and the confusion over returning to the office or creating hybrid work spaces, there was a lot of discussion around keeping employee morale high and looking out for mental health triggers for workers. Plus, emphasis on the need for empathy and soft skills made it appear that the tides were turning and the workplace was becoming more humanized. But not so, according to Gloria St. Martin-Lowry, president of HPWP Group—a company that works with employers to implement commonsense approaches that cut turnover and change the status quo. She observes that employee company loyalty is rapidly fading. “They’d replace you before your body’s cold,” she told me by email. “How’d we get so disposable?” She shared the story of a Google software engineer who dedicated twenty years of his life to the company, only to be laid off by email with no personal goodbye. And she says there are hundreds of similar stories.

The Disposable Work Culture

Unfortunately, the feeling of being “disposable” is nothing new, St. Martin-Lowry notes. She says over the years (and we are talking decades), workers who have been laid off have been treated similarly to the Google software engineer. “The business perspective seems to be ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business’ and that is a problem, especially in today’s world,” she asserts. “A couple of weeks ago a colleague shared a very recent example of a supervisor who was on vacation when the company shut down and laid off his shift. They called him and told him he would be fine, and they would talk further when he came back from vacation. On his first day back at work, they told him he was laid off, too. Being dishonest (or at least disingenuous) was easier than thinking they might ruin his vacation. They certainly did not seem to want to include him in the decision or even give him a heads-up to talk about how to best handle it.”

Too often, businesses and leaders have viewed people as a commodity (simply a set of hands to do the work), St. Martin-Lowry continues. “And when you view people as a commodity, it is only natural to treat them as such. People are seen as interchangeable, and you can always hire another set of hands when you need to. I have heard numerous leaders say that turnover is just ‘a cost of doing business.’”  

She laments that we seem to have short memories. “I had hoped that the Great Resignation would have caused organizations and leaders to rethink and change their approach toward people and yet we are not really connecting it back to the negative impacts on people, the work culture and business. Why would we expect people to be loyal and go the extra mile when we repeatedly treat them this way?” She adds that it is not uncommon for leaders to use layoffs as an excuse to get rid of people they have not stepped up to manage. “We do not invest the time we could and should in developing relationships, coaching performance and doing problem solving when there are performance gaps.”

How Businesses Can Rebuild Corporate Loyalty

It really is not complicated to create a culture of trust, loyalty and high performance, St. Martin-Lowry points out. “When you value people, and I mean really value them you treat and engage with them differently. We tend to spend more of our time and energy on the problem people. That very small minority of people get most of our time and attention. We build on policies and processes that unfortunately reinforce treating the rest of our team as a commodity.” She shared some ways businesses can shift gears and restore a culture of trust, transparency and employee engagement.

  1. “Show employees you value them. When people feel valued, they know you care, and when they know you care that connects them more to the organization and fosters more loyalty, retention and commitment. If you want a different result, you must be willing to do some things differently.”
  2. “Challenge your own assumptions about people and look at whether you are operating on positive or negative assumptions. This is important because our assumptions drive how we show up and communicate with others. You get a much different outcome when you operate on positive assumptions.”
  3. “Make time to connect with people and get to know them. What are they interested in, professionally as well as personally? What motivates or energizes them? You will improve communication and connection. More and more people crave a sense of purpose in the work they do. When you invest time and attention you have the opportunity to reinforce and connect people to purpose.”
  4. “Actively look for ways to engage people. Too often, we settle for compliance to activities. You build commitment and retention when you involve and engage them. This can include having people hire their peers, giving them the power to resolve problems and streamline processes, as well as ask for and implement their ideas and solutions to business challenges.”

Over half of American workers feel they have no one to turn to with a workplace issue. It’s no surprise many are ditching their jobs for greener pastures. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, 51% of employees are on the lookout for a new job, and the majority of the world’s employees are quiet quitting, even as worker stress remains at a record high. What can business leaders do to restore employee loyalty? Gallup asks it a different way: “What can leaders do to potentially save the world?” Their answer is clear: “Change the way your people are managed.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: