Are you happy at work? For most, this is not an easy question to answer. While some might base work satisfaction on money, others might focus more on a wide variety of aspects, including work hours, working conditions, relationships with other employees and upper management, paid leave, and even perks. No matter what the answer is for you, one clear thing is that contentment at work is based on expectations and whether these are met or not.
When it comes to expectations, it is usually about clarity, whether employees understand not only what the company expects from them but also how to achieve it. Besides, companies must also focus on employee rewards, both what kind and why. Without a reward system, employees will quickly lose a sense of purpose within the organization. Hence, their performance level will ultimately suffer.
Finally, companies must ensure employees have a sense of belonging towards the business, a sense of “my company” instead of simply “the company I work for.” Studies show that motivation will increase in all human beings when we feel “as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.”
Setting expectations doesn’t start the day the employee joins the company. It starts before that, in the interview and recruitment process. Many companies fail to understand that even though the employees want and need the job, they are also looking for the best possible outcome. During the interview process, employees are already sizing up the company as well as the interviewer, looking for both strengths and weaknesses within the organization they are planning to join. As such, companies should ask themselves:
- Are we setting clear work expectations during the interview process?
- Are these expectations in line with the work itself? Are we making promises we cannot meet?
- Once the employee joins the organization, are we setting clear expectations for the first month, the second, and the third?
- Are these expectations achievable based on employee ability, training, and overall knowledge?
- Are we providing the right framework, the right path for employees to achieve their goals?
These questions will help organizations both set and manage employee expectations at the office.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Everyone likes a prize; everyone likes to be rewarded for the work they’ve done. However, not everyone wants the same thing. While one employee might place a high value on a promotion, another may be more than happy to stay in the same position and would much rather get a fair salary increase and a longer paid leave to spend with his family.
Of course, it’s impossible to please everybody, to make everyone happy. This is not what organizations should do. Instead, they can find alternatives to rewards, different options for employees to choose from. An example of this could be a short-term point system. Let’s say employees are given five points for coming to work on time for a whole month, another ten for meeting deadlines, etc. At the end of the month, these points could be exchanged for small rewards, including an extra day off, a financial incentive, and temporary free access to the company gym.
Another option is offering a cafeteria or menu plan to employees. This way, employees can choose two to three options from a list of available choices, the options that are most convenient to them.
Creating a Sense of Belonging
High employee turnover is costly to an enterprise, both financially and in terms of reputation. It will also affect the overall value of the organization in a future company appraisal process. So, how can businesses keep employees from jumping ship? As we have seen, managing expectations and creating a suitable reward system are viable options. A third one is creating a sense of belonging, giving employees a reason to stay.
The best way for companies is through feedback; adequate, timely, two-way feedback. Adequate feedback not only highlights the employees’ weaknesses but also provides reasons and evidence to support these claims as well as a clear path of improvement. Also, it places a high value on employee strengths and offers praise.
Timely, two-way feedback is an assessment between supervisor and employee made when needed. Some employees require feedback every week. On the other hand, highly motivated staff might prefer to be given more space and a sense of empowerment. Both will nonetheless value the opportunity to give feedback themselves, not just listen. The key is for organizations to know their employees well enough and act accordingly.
Running a successful business is never easy. It all starts with employees, the core of an organization. By setting clear expectations, providing a reward system, and creating a sense of belonging within the staff, enterprises will minimize employee turnover and create a positive work environment where everybody can thrive.