Your employees are your company’s most important assets. They’re the ones who bring energy, skills, and experience to drive your business forward and build success in your marketplace. And they’re also the ones who will make or break your brand reputation in the eyes of your customers. After all, we’ve all heard the term “happy employees make happy customers.”
In this article, we’ll explore top employee expectations and how you can ensure your business fulfills them in order to stay competitive.
Let’s face it, none of us want to get up in the morning and go to a workplace where there’s tension, conflict, gossip, and backstabbing. A toxic work environment will inevitably lead to low morale and high levels of absenteeism and employee turnover.
On the flip side, a positive, friendly, and accepting work environment will bring out the best in people. When a company’s culture is strong, employees feel energized to give their best, work hard, and do what they can to advance the organization’s overarching goals. They’ll come to work with a positive attitude.
One of the biggest mistakes that an employer can make is assuming that all their employees really care about is money. Sure, most people work to earn money to support themselves and their families. But the value of positive reinforcement and appreciation for a job well done or extra hours put in to meet an important project deadline cannot be underestimated.
Saying “thank you” through a simple kind word, note, or email doesn’t have to cost anything, but its impact in terms of loyalty and appreciation is immeasurable.
Too often, employers get into the habit of viewing their employees as “resources” who just perform a set of tasks. The best employers always try to remember that their employees are human beings too and, as such, should always be treated with dignity and respect. One of the greatest challenges employees face in our modern workplace is juggling personal and family responsibilities with their job-related tasks and expectations. People in highly stressful jobs or those expected to work long hours or shifts often end up taking their work worries home to their families.
Too often, they end up sacrificing weekends or holiday time with their families as work “gets in the way.” This arrangement isn’t good for either employee or employer, nor is it sustainable or healthy in the long term. The best employers seek ways to enable workplace flexibility so that their people can strike that all-important work-life balance.
Most people approach their jobs with honest and honorable intentions. Employees expect to feel that they can be trusted to do the right thing and don’t need to be watched or checked up on constantly. There’s no quicker way to create resentment or apathy by “hovering” over people or questioning their motives and commitment.
Likewise, the way leaders and managers speak to and interact with their employees is critical. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. No good will come from cultivating a culture of fear. Raised voices, obscenities, and bullying simply won’t help you build and maintain a positive workplace culture and foster employees’ loyalty.
In any business, there will be times when it’s entirely appropriate for conversations to happen behind closed doors. For example, to protect the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive or classified information. That being said, the best, most respected leaders aren’t afraid to open up to their people about what’s going well in the business and where there are challenges. Part of being a transparent leader is being vulnerable and admitting that sometimes you don’t have all the answers. When it comes to important business decisions, of course, it’s not possible to do everything “by committee,” but understand that if you explain to your people why you’re making certain decisions, there’s a better chance they’ll accept them, even if they don’t completely agree with them.
Regular, clear, and bi-directional internal communication is also an area that deserves attention. Given that many frontline and customer-facing employees don’t have access to a computer, forward-looking employers are investing in tools that allow non-deskbound employees to get company announcements, reminders, and alerts while they’re on the go via a handy app on their smartphones.
Today, more employees expect a degree of flexibility in the employee-employer working relationship. Flexible payment and shift scheduling models are good examples.
Flexible payment options are especially popular among hourly workers working paycheck to paycheck. Earned Wage Access (EWA) – allowing employees to access wages they’ve already earned but not yet been paid – is one form of flexible payment that helps alleviate financial stress and helps employers compete with the growing gig economy.
Payactiv’s service also allows employees to benefit from discounts and special offers and use their earned wages to pay for services like Uber and Amazon or pay their bills directly via an app on their smartphone.
In terms of shift scheduling flexibility, digital solutions such as that offered by Payactiv make it possible for people to access the company’s shift management system and swap shifts at short notice or pick up extra ones – all with just a couple of clicks on the app on their smartphone. This is invaluable for people who sometimes need to attend to personal matters or have family commitments such as childcare.
Digital financial wellness tools and support are also welcome employee benefits you can offer your people at little or no cost. The best providers offer handy features like budgeting and savings tools and free financial learning and counseling. When combined with access to on-demand pay and discounts, these services provide a path to long-term financial stability and growth.
As the saying goes, “it’s a two-way street,” and as an employer, you have a right to expect certain standards of behavior on the part of your employees too. Here are some of the things you should let your people know you expect from them in the workplace:
Most employees welcome a formal job description that sets out their roles and responsibilities in detail and during which hours their tasks should be completed. But there will be times when you’ll need to ask your people to take on additional tasks or work slightly longer hours. This could happen as the deadline for a big project draws near or during particularly busy times of the year (such as the holidays in the retail or hospitality industries.)
Flexibility is a common employer expectation. It’s OK to ask your people to go the extra mile now and again. However, make sure that you express your gratitude for their willingness to be flexible and recognize them with a day off, a late start, or extended breaks, for example. Also, giving employees the ability to swap shifts quickly and easily is a practical way to help navigate unforeseen events when extra manpower is needed at short notice.
Reliable employees do what they say and say what they do. Employee reliability takes many forms, including consistently upholding the company’s values in their actions and words and speaking up if they spot a problem you should be aware of.
Punctuality is a critical element of reliability. This doesn’t just mean showing up for work on time. It also means not lingering overly long during breaks or chatting endlessly by the coffee machine. Additionally, it involves not keeping people waiting or regularly showing up for meetings late.
As an employer, you need people in your organization who are willing and able to get things done, not just the things listed in their job description. Proactive people get things done without being asked, and they’re always on the lookout for new ways to solve problems or streamline processes and tasks.
Employees who take initiative are also the ones who will show a willingness to embrace continual learning and development in their roles and take advantage of training programs or seminars.
Employers expect employees to communicate their needs, opinions, and ideas effectively yet respectfully. This requires not only a certain level of verbal communication skills, but also what’s known as emotional intelligence or “EQ.”
So, make it clear to your team that a positive attitude and clear and constructive communication is an expectation when they’re in the workplace and that sulking or any form of “passive-aggressive” behavior will not be tolerated.
When employees meet their deadlines consistently, it allows businesses to reach their goals faster and deliver consistently high levels of customer service. As an employer, you can help your people better manage and meet multiple deadlines by keeping their workload at a reasonable level and giving them tools that help them schedule and prioritize projects and tasks.
Time management training is another useful avenue to help people keep on top of their projects and deadlines.
Setting clear employee expectations will increase the chances of employees being successful in achieving their goals and becoming true assets to your organization.
Before you engage with your employees and set out your workplace expectations, you need to spend some time thinking about what these expectations are and why they make it onto your list. Factors that will influence your people’s expectations will likely include customer satisfaction and your desire to build and sustain a winning company culture.
It’s a good idea to write down your list of expectations in clear, simple language before you share them with your employees. This will allow them to spend time after your meeting absorbing them and come back to you if they need any clarification.
This relates back to point one above. You need to explain to people precisely why you expect certain behaviors from them and why they matter to you, your business, and their colleagues. So, go into detail about your objectives and the thinking behind your expectations.
To make your expectations tangible, it’s a good idea to set out specific examples of situations where you expect an employee to behave in a certain way. For example, in a retail environment, perhaps sketch out a scenario where a customer is attempting to return a faulty item of merchandise and becomes irate or abusive. Clearly explain to your employees what would and would not comprise acceptable behavior on their part in this situation.
Once you’ve thoroughly explained your expectations to your employees and answered any questions they might have, it’s time for you to agree on them and sign a formal commitment to this effect.
With a bit of thought and effort, it’s possible to operate a business where all employees have a clear and common understanding of acceptable and expected behaviors.
Payactiv has helped hundreds of businesses build a positive work environment where people feel more appreciated and understood. Learn more about our services.
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