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Loyal No Longer

Call it the loyalty factor, and call it "gone" from the American workplace.

Or rather, it's been chased out. Two decades of downsizing have wreaked havoc on the old corporate contract: Take care of your company, and your company will take care of you.

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Today's workers have learned - often the hard way - a new motto: Me first.

"We've changed the work covenant," says Kim Cameron, a management professor at Brigham Young University. "Organizations now say, when you come to work, you have to understand you're expendable.... And what that's led to is people in it for themselves."

"Organizations say, 'Fine, that's OK with us,' " he adds. But "in the long term, costs go up, productivity goes down ... and communication becomes problematic."

While few companies guarantee a job for life, management experts say they can make other guarantees. One example: When Sears, Roebuck & Co. announced it would eliminate 50,000 jobs in January 1993, the retailer guaranteed - in writing - that those who worked for Sears would be more employable when they left. The company promised, among other things, mentoring and training.

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