Missionary vs. Mercenary: Rethinking the Importance of Employee Loyalty in the Age of Outsourcing


Can outsourced employees be as loyal as full-timers? And does it matter?

How important are loyal employees to your company’s success? If you were just starting your business decades ago, it’s likely we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. After all, generations of professionals were a part the era of the long-term, ladder-climbing workforce; the ones who settled into their 9 to 5 realities, putting in their time, working towards the goal of a happy retirement.


But as business owners in the 21st century, there’s a different reality – a new workforce paradigm that encompasses full-timers, freelancers, and outsourced employees. So is loyalty out the window, then? Or can companies still expect and strive for that one quality that separates the mercenary from the missionary?

Missionary vs. mercenary, what’s the difference?

Missionary and mercenary are two concepts that are often interchanged erroneously. The fact is, they’re very different, especially when it comes to your employees and your business. A missionary’s key motivation is to fulfill their passion (which in the case of your business is the “why”), while a mercenary’s mission is to outdo others. Missionaries are usually in it for the long haul, versus the opportunistic, shorter-term mindset of a mercenary. And while mercenaries are typically driven by a desire for money or some other tangible reward, missionaries are hoping to make an impact or do something with meaning.

How important is it to have missionaries vs. mercenaries on your team?

An important note to make here is that although they’re driven by entirely different goals, both mercenaries and missionaries can be high performers. After all, each type of employee is inspired to perform their job well, and in the case of the mercenary, maybe even more so for the simple fact that it’s in their nature to outdo the competition.


Technology professionals, for example, are not only motivated to complete tasks and collect paychecks; these folks also covet the next innovation and can’t wait to use it in their professional lives. So while they’re wired differently than missionaries, the result is still the same: remarkable outcomes that, in the end, may be just what your company needs to propel it forward (and edge out competitors). It stands to reason that companies that employ a mix of full-time workers and outsourced ones with different priorities may actually experience the best of both worlds.

Increasing loyalty across the board – can it be done?

The advent of outsourced employees continues to cause a definitive shift in the employment model, yet there are still ways to keep the momentum of your missionaries alive while fostering increased loyalty among contractors and freelancers. The key, especially when your team consists of a combination of these different types of workers, is to manage them properly, ensuring that, whether they’re working onsite or on the other side of the country, they feel they’re an integral part of your company. Some steps you can take include:


All-inclusive company events: While some contractors may not be able to attend, including everyone on the team nurtures a sense of belonging. You could also consider hosting multiple events at your different locations, if applicable.


Regular communication: Keeping everyone in the loop encourages teamwork and collaboration and ensures that employees who aren’t physically present aren’t excluded.


Reward and recognize: The days of the “employee of the month” plaque on the lobby wall aren’t gone for good, but the concept of rewarding and recognizing workers has evolved. Businesses have access to a myriad of employee engagement tools and programs that make it easy to acknowledge a job well done.


Business leaders and economists tout that missionaries, not mercenaries, are the ideal employees. And while there’s definitely something to be said for the worker who’s in it for the greater good, no one can deny the positives of an employee whose main mission is to excel by outdoing the competition.


If you’re on the hunt for loyal and effective workers, look to Capital Markets Placement. As your recruiting partner, we can connect you with highly-qualified talent that will become a vital part of your organization. Get in touch with us today.

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