There are two primary “styles” of HR management: Paternalistic and Mechanistic. Mind you, this is a great deal of my own wording, although Rand certainly wrote on the subject at length. The Paternalistic approach is the “old fashioned” idea of going to work for a company out of school or college and working there until you retire with the proverbial gold watch. In this environment, loyalty is the currency of the day. The newer approach is one I call Mechanistic in that people are treated as office machines– to be bought and thrown away at will. In this environment, croneyism is the rule of the day (because only through “Machiavellian friendships” can you keep a job).
The alternative is application of the Trader Principle. This means that the traditional “employer/employee” relationship is not so relevant as the benefits each derives from working together… i.e., To complete this client project, I need skills X, Y, and Z–so I’ll hire you to provide me with them for this project. The Trader Principle is based on ongoing competency and credibility. The more consistently you produce effective results, the more valuable you become and the more appreciated. In this case, “loyalty” is earned by both parties– not just demanded by one of the other. The relationship continues as long as it is mutually beneficial–each party being free to determine their own definition of what they find to be acceptable benefit.
In a Trader Principle environment, work becomes more “project focused” because employment is more of an ongoing series of projects– with each one being evaluated objectively. And with either party able to decide whether to continue the relationship or not. The highly competent can be confident in their career path because either their current employer or another one will gladly work with them. The incompetent or lazy person can be confident that their employment will come to an abrupt end. The competent employee can be confident that when the unexpected happens, their job will still be theirs when they return because the employer places value on their work and wants to continue working with a known/credible producer.