What Employees Expect from Their Jobs
People work for myriad reasons, but most of these reasons figure into three core factors: They want to be entertained, feel appreciated, and earn money. The job description that covers these needs might read, “Our company offers challenging work, opportunities for career growth, and a comprehensive compensation and benefits package.” The excited employee who applies for the position might think, “Finally — a job that will let me use my skills and knowledge in ways that make me happy, a company that will see how good I am and promote me, and a paycheck that will cover payments on a new car!”
Employees often expect their jobs to provide a certain level of social interaction. Going to work is a chance to reconnect with friends and acquaintances. Human beings need this interaction. In most situations, this need is not necessarily incompatible with productivity and efficiency. People work better when they're happy, and interacting with other people is a way to be happy. The challenge for managers is to keep such interactions appropriate for the workplace.
On the surface, an employee's expectations are often brief and clear. He or she wants a reasonable paycheck, reasonable work assignments, reasonable hours, and a reasonable level of respect. The definition of “reasonable,” however, is different for each employee and changes over the course of an employee's career. A young, single person at the start of his or her working life might be eager for opportunities to travel and willing to work long hours to complete complex projects. For a married person with a family, however, travel and overtime might be resented intrusions.
Though expectations vary among individuals, three basic needs are common to most people:
To engage in work that is interesting and that provides a sense of accomplishment
To feel that the job offers economic stability
To grow toward personal potential
An employee's expectations begin with the job position posting or advertisement. Someone — hopefully a person who intimately knows the job's technical skill requirements and work environment — attempts to summarize the position's needs in 100 words or less. This can be a considerable challenge, even for the entry-level jobs employees might apply for to gain experience. Most job descriptions include a certain amount of “planned ambiguity” to accommodate the rapidly shifting needs of the business world.
Usually, this benefits both the company and the employee. Employers need to be able to change a job to fit new needs. Workers generally appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills and have new experiences. Managers and employees alike who establish rigid expectations based on the job description in place at the time of hiring are likely to resist changes that arise. This can lead to angry confrontations and dissatisfaction on both sides of the management line.