How to manage employee expectations

What your top talent really wants from you, and why it's best to give it to them.

Written by Faye Bradshaw
Published 02 August 2018
How to manage employee expectations
Have you been focusing so much on transforming your customers' experience that you've forgotten about the experiences of your own people? Chances are, your customers are now better informed, quicker to complain about a negative experience, and have higher standards than at any time in the past.

They want a personalized experience and the best service possible - all while you're helping to save the planet, ideally! But your own people's expectations of you are not dissimilar. The employer-employee relationship is evolving fast. Advances in technology are changing the way that we work, changing what we need from our employees, and what they need from us. Understanding this, and developing our teams and future leaders, is essential.

What drives your employees?

Your employees are your foot soldiers, but they will only fight for you if they think that you're meeting their needs. Unhappy employees can cause you huge problems: negative attitudes can spread through an office just as quickly as positive ones. Employee engagement is now an essential ingredient for success and growth. Some organizations struggle to achieve that engagement, but the solution is quite simple: effective communication.

How to communicate around employee expectations

The future of employer-employee relationships is about mutual benefit, and a fair value exchange. So listen to your people, as you do to your customers. Outside the workplace, we're all customers, and we expect a certain level of customer service. Your workforce expects that same level from you. Employees are not simply cogs in a machine; think of them as your internal customers, and pay them the same attention. Use the same customer experience thinking and structures to tap into their hearts and minds.

Look after your employees' well-being

Employees of the future will be very different to those you have now. So leaders will have to change, too. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, or how big your organization is, everybody needs to reassess how they are managing employee expectations. Did you ever have a job that you hated, one that made getting up in the morning a real chore? Now imagine how you'd feel if you knew your own people might be feeling that way about your organization! Make employee well-being a business goal, and build a strategy around it.

Let's look at seven things that you can put in place to meet your people's expectations, now and in the future:

1. Provide training and development

Your people want to be challenged. They want to be given the trust, respect and responsibility for taking their own decisions. They want more control over their careers, so consigning them to a cubicle or micromanaging them will simply alienate them, and they'll likely leave. A 2016 study by the Association for Talent Development found that organizations that develop their people boast an incredible 218 percent higher income per employee, and a 24 percent higher profit margin, than those that don't.

TIP: Ask your employees for feedback on your managerial performance, too. Continuous improvement is something that everyone can embrace.

2. Offer more flexibility at work

"What if I lose control of my team?" isn't the right way of thinking anymore. Besides, people respond very well to increased autonomy: a study of almost 1,400 employees and managers in the U.K. revealed that 54 percent of workers felt productive through flexible working, and 75 percent felt more satisfied in their roles. People don't want to feel like they're failing at work because they have children to take care of, or need a more convenient working schedule. A 2014 YouGov/McCann poll of U.K. workers found that most of those aged 35-44 rated work-life balance more important than salary.

3. Provide a personalized experience

A 2017 PWC survey of almost 1,400 CEOs across 79 countries found that 77 percent of respondents struggled to attract the talent that they need. But such talent wants a workplace that suits their personality and values, rather than one that tries to pigeonhole them. Employees want the "customer experience," too, and Millennials fully expect it. They want to know that you really care about them, not just their time sheets.

4. Offer more support and recognition

Show your appreciation to your team members, especially when they've gone the extra mile for you or their colleagues, or have delivered excellent performance. Read our article, Rewarding Your Team, to pick up creative tips and suggestions for recognizing people's efforts and achievements. It's a virtuous circle: if your team members know that their hard work or great ideas are appreciated and rewarded, even if it's with a simple "thank you," then they will continue to give you their best.

5. Create a collaborative and inspiring culture

In general, most people, but particularly Millennials and flexible and remote workers, want to feel part of a creative, collaborative team. The want to feel included and and engaged. Every culture will be different, but all will require top-down support and encouragement. Ask your employees about their needs, what's working, and what's not. You'll likely see how joint problem solving and sharing of insight and perspectives can boost your bottom line.

6. Be more transparent

Employees want to get to know you. They want to work for a company whose values match their own. Times are uncertain, and fast-moving, so it's never been more vital to keep your employees informed and reassured. Leaders must engage with their people; the future is about open communication. You don't want a fractured team or office air thick with tension. Honesty will lead to trust, and trust will help you unearth problems quicker.

7. Allow for more involvement and creativity

Employees want the chance to express themselves creatively. They want a connection to what your organization is doing, so involve them. Make it less about rules, and more about shared goals and vision. When Google ran its 20 Percent Time scheme for employees - allowing one day per week to be spent on side projects - it resulted in the creation of Gmail, Adsense and Google Maps.

 What new expectations from employees have you faced in your organization, and how did you respond? Share your experiences and lessons learned below!

About the author

Faye Bradshaw

Faye Bradshaw

Freelance Writer
Faye brings over a decade of experience in creating and editing content for organizations across the world. She specializes in L&D and loves using her creativity to make a difference each day, helping people to develop themselves. She does her best writing in her indoor jungle/office, with her dog, Colin, at her side.

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