The Casual Art of Navigating Employee Expectations

learning and development

Every employee joins an organisation with a unique set of career expectations in mind, although this may remain unspoken and undisclosed. As a result, some organisations may ignore employee expectations as long as nothing serious happens. However, such an indifferent approach often results in active disengagement among workers, gradually lowering performances and increasing turnover rates.

Since every employee functions differently from the next, through individual ideas, perspectives, and values, a leader needs to invest quality time in understanding specific needs. It is also essential to note that employee expectations shift over time, according to economic and lifestyle changes. 

While a sense of purpose might seem like an overarching goal in the modern workplace, some workers may prioritise work-life balance and career progression. There is no universal standard, and the most reliable strategy in meeting employee expectations involves good old-fashioned communication between leaders and workers. 

Fine-tuning Recruitment Processes

Besides academic qualifications, industrial experience, and soft skills, employers and recruiters should address the less tangible workplace factors during a hiring process. Some significant factors include workplace culture, job scope, and the diverse working styles among colleagues. 

Do employees need to juggle multiple tasks in highly stressful environments? Is dynamic teamwork a primary requirement? What are the types of personalities, strengths, and skills required for the role? These are questions that can ease hires in a workplace environment. 

A transparent and comprehensive introduction to the “intangible elements” will help prevent severe culture shock in the organisation. It’s essential to inform hires on what they can expect before joining a team or organisation. 

By maintaining clarity in the recruitment process, companies can eliminate the risks of inaccurate assumptions and disappointments, which cause employee disengagement down the road. Additionally, an open discussion of organisational challenges will prepare hires from the start and encourage the sharing of creative solutions. 

Showing Greater Appreciation

No organisation has ever come under fire for appreciating the dedication and diligence of its employees. Gratitude at work may come in the form of incentives or a simple thank you note left at a desk. By actively showing appreciation, employers start the ball rolling toward creating a positive work culture. 

Similarly, leaders can enhance employee relations by providing some leeway in the event of a mistake. Instead of reacting strongly and unreasonably, leaders can respond with empathy and trust that employees will learn and benefit from the experience. Leadership coach Wendy Born shares, “When we create an environment that is forgiving for our people, we see improvements in innovation, creativity, and problem-solving.”

Most, if not all employees look forward to working in a conducive environment that promotes mutually healthy and supportive relationships. The art of appreciation will help companies raise morale, staff engagement, and performance in the long-term. 

Promote Creativity and Staff Autonomy 

Employees appreciate the opportunity to make a direct impact at work. As such, employers may empower workers by involving employees in decision-making processes. Employees may participate in various ways, from selecting the most suitable office decor to voting for the latest workplace initiatives. 

Some companies go a step further in encouraging creativity among workers through initiatives like Google’s 20 percent rule. The rule empowers Google employees to invest their creative energies into side projects, 20% of their working hours (one day per week). Google’s innovative policy proved highly successful, leading to significant software breakthroughs like Gmail and Adsense. 

Organisational leaders may also provide workers with the autonomy to customize their learning and development (L&D) pathways. Leaders may conduct routine discussions with employees to formulate the best training arrangements that align personal career objectives with organisational goals. Customised training is likely to keep employees interested and boost learning outcomes based on individual strengths and preferences. 

Jason DeMers, CEO and Founder of content marketing agency AudienceBloom, sums up the advantages of empowering employees, “giving employees more autonomy comes with benefits beyond simply raising morale. When businesses enable workers to set their own goals, choose their own schedules, and hold themselves accountable for their own work, they cut back on management and leadership roles, saving money and improving efficiency.

The responsibility and trust in decision-making promote employee satisfaction and a sense of belonging to an organisation. Every voice matters and a company that offers employees the freedom to express themselves will encourage them to go the extra mile. 

Optimising Work Styles 

There are many types of employees with various work styles. Some individuals thrive on systematic instructions with clearly outlined tasks and goals, while others enjoy the freedom of navigating their roles through independent approaches. Organisational leaders can optimise employee experiences by identifying and encouraging the work method that works best for each individual. 

For example, the Clifton StrengthsFinder (CliftonStrengths) is an online assessment that enables leaders to identify employees’ core talents and strengths. Building a strength-based organisation can help shape employee engagement, leading to diverse yet collaborative work cultures. 

Leveraging the Power of Feedback

The fastest and most effective way of understanding what employees want is by asking them. Feedback remains a go-to tool in successful organisations. The most insightful and accurate feedback methods involve regular engagement – daily if possible. Additionally, management should ensure that employee feedback influences operations to advance company objectives. 

Leaders should avoid generalised or non-actionable feedback that fails to add value to existing practices. Instead, feedback should take on goal-based perspectives that outline trackable objectives. Other important considerations include engaging in feedback during appropriate moments (avoid highly-strung situations or right after a heated disagreement) and respecting the privacy of employees who share their closely guarded opinions. 

Ultimately, a positive work culture will play a considerable part in exceeding all employee expectations. By identifying and accomplishing the critical factors required in a positive work environment, leaders can consistently fulfill employee expectations. Additionally, consistent and transparent communication will serve as the adhesive that keeps workers satisfied and engaged regardless of contrasting expectations. 

StrengthsAsia has helped many individuals and corporate clients empower leaders throughout the region by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you wish to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, please reach out to us here.

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

Maalikka is the latest addition to StrengthsAsia’s team of marketing and content extraordinaries. As an avid reader, writer and learner, she’s always on the lookout for new information online or interesting conversations to inspire her. Her other passions include gaming, Netflix and cats.

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