Meeting employee expectation is a struggle many small businesses face. An unsatisfied workforce is hardly the secret to business success, but many employers aren’t aware of the detrimental impact not meeting employee expectation can have.
Competition for top talent is fiercer than ever, and employees need more than just money to be motivated; most expect to find meaning in their jobs and to feel they are valued in their workplace. Therefore, to maintain a productive workplace and retain good employees, small business owners must know how to meet the expectations of their workers.
Why meeting employee expectation is important
Theorists like Maslow and Herzberg have shown through decades of data that employees become greater assets to organizations when they have a better sense of value and recognition at work.
What’s more, not meeting employee expectation could cost your business. Workforce experts estimate the cost of replacing a worker to be 1.5 times the worker’s annual salary – an expense many small businesses can’t afford.
The benefits of a positive employee experience are often dependent on the individual and the business in question. However, research from Kevin Kruse, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling author, has shown that when employee expectations are met, benefits can include:
- Better productivity at work
- Increased loyalty
- Lower staff turnover
- Less employee absence
- Better communication
Why you’re not meeting employee expectation
While a great deal of importance is attached to customer expectation, businesses have not focused on much on employee satisfaction – until now. The importance of the employee experience is well recognized, and there are five main reasons why you might be falling behind:
1. You don’t know your employees as individuals
According to research by Azure Consulting, 48% of managers do not know the names of their employees’ children. While this might seem like a minor detail with little significance to your business, showing that you know and value your employees on an individual basis can mean the difference between an engaged workforce and a disinterested one, claims the study.
The findings by Azure Consulting also concluded that employees who don’t have a personal connection to their employer are 200% less productive than those who feel valued on an individual level.
The study also shows that small businesses with disengaged workers tend to experience higher rates of employee turnover, as well as mounting recruitment and training costs. Therefore, it’s in your interests as a business owner to get to know your employees better.
2. Employee work is too structured, or not structured enough
Structure is integral to a positive work environment for some, while others prefer to work independently. Again, getting to know your employees on a one-to-one basis will help you play to people’s specific strengths.
As a general rule, you should offer structure and flexibility, encouraging your team to use their own initiative and problem-solving methods while also enforcing boundaries. Your employees should be aware of the specific guidelines, timelines and procedures that must be followed, but they should also have the freedom to take on new responsibilities, offer ideas and streamline existing procedures for the benefit of the business.
3. Your work environment is unsuitable
Let’s overlook the obvious factors and assume your employees work within a helpful team, with the basic resources they need at a comfortable temperature. Subtle environmental factors can have a significant impact on employee experience, such as the ability to express personality, contribute ideas and enjoy social relationships with coworkers.
Of course, different personalities thrive in different environments, and you won’t please everyone all the time. A smart way to meet employee expectation is to conduct a survey or use an anonymous suggestion box. That way, you can learn directly from your team what the work environment is lacking.
You may find that extroverted employees work best in a social environment that facilitates collaboration. Introverted workers, on the other hand, may expect to be able to work in quieter surroundings. If you have enough office space, think about installing work booths or quiet areas as well as co-working spaces.
4. You’re not offering adequate career growth
Work satisfaction is not just about salary and benefits. Employee expectations are based primarily on immaterial things, such as enjoyment of the role and opportunities for career growth. If your key employees invest time and effort into their job role, they expect to get rewarded – and not just in monetary ways.
Over time, new job titles, increased ownership of work or more responsibilities are vital for career-minded employees, so make sure your team knows there are opportunities for advancements.
5. You’re not flexible enough
Expecting your employees to work in the same way is a somewhat outdated management view. The key to getting the most out of your employees (and keeping them happy, engaged and motivated to work for you) is to recognize their differences: different strengths and weaknesses, different needs, and different methods of working.
This means you need to become more flexible as a business. According to CEO Jason Fried, it’s time to let all employees work remotely so that they can choose their best working hours and environments.
The benefits of meeting employee expectation, both in a business sense and a personal sense, include less turnover, reduced recruitment costs, better productivity and stronger working relationships. Therefore, improving the employee experience is something every employer should strive to achieve.
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