By now, most of us have heard about the Great Resignation. We know the stats: 48% of employees have thought about changing careers in the past year. In some companies, turnover has shot above 30%. But it’s not just companies that are facing turnover—employee expectations are evolving too.
Employees today aren’t just looking for a fatter paycheck. They want a better work-life balance. They want a meaningful company culture. More than anything else, they want employers that care. Organizations that don’t meet these new employee expectations are at risk.
Organizations that address the problem? They won’t just curb employee turnover. They can also steal top talent from companies that refuse to change.
We’ll cover how to meet employee expectations in more detail. In general, though, it consists of four steps:
- Diagnose employee expectations.
- Address employee expectations.
- Advertise the new culture.
- Inspire employees in the long-term.
In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:
- Why meeting your employees’ expectations matters
- What are the new expectations employees have?
- How to meet the expectations of your employees
- How the Predictive Index can boost employee satisfaction
Why meeting your employees’ expectations matters
Meeting your employees needs isn’t just common sense. It’s a priority supported by science.
Studies show that employees usually leave jobs for one of four reasons:
- Long-term dissatisfaction.
- Better alternatives.
- Planned changes.
- A specific negative experience.
Connecting employee expectations to the first two is simple. Employees whose needs are met are usually satisfied. When employees are satisfied, they’re less likely to think your competitor is a better alternative.
Planned changes are affected by employee expectations too. Let’s say an employee is considering leaving your organization to go back to school. If you support their goal with flexible work or other employee benefits, they may choose to stay at your company and go to school part-time.
Finally, when employee expectations are met, negative experiences are less likely to cause turnover. Suppose an employee gets in an argument with a manager. An unsatisfied employee might consider the argument the last straw, and quit. On the other hand, a satisfied employee will probably see the argument as a temporary frustration, and stay.
Keeping employee retention high means meeting employee expectations. Of course, that’s only possible if you know what their expectations actually are.
What are the new expectations employees have?
Not every job can or should go hybrid or remote. For those that can, it’s a powerful incentive for employees.
Surveys show that 55% of office workers want to stay remote at least part of the week. It’s not hard to see why: Remote employees spend less time and money commuting, and more time either working or with family.
Meeting this expectation doesn’t just mean throwing together a Zoom room. Instead, it requires a plan for successfully managing your remote team.
Flexible work schedules
Remote work isn’t the only expectation that’s shifted. Employees also want the freedom to choose their schedules.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 80% of respondents would choose a job with a flexible schedule over a job without one. Another 76% would be more likely to stay at their current job if it offered flexible hours.
That doesn’t mean they’re looking to slack off or work fewer hours. Instead, they want the ability to come in earlier or later depending on life circumstances.
The bottom line? If you want to be maximally attractive to candidates, consider adopting flexible work options.
Work-life balance is hard. Remote work-life balance is even harder. Yet, it’s increasingly an employee expectation.
You might not encourage employees to stay late. But do you discourage them from doing so? If employees see their coworkers staying late, they’ll feel pressured to join them—regardless of the official policy.
In the short term, this will increase output. In the long term, employees will crash and burn. Keep the work experience positive and output high by actively encouraging (and modeling) a work-life balance.
Mentorship and career development
Meeting employee expectations requires more than improving working conditions. It requires improving work opportunities.
Not every employee wants extra job responsibilities. But those early in their career expect opportunities to grow.
Creating a strong mentorship program can help. Peer coaching can too. Even more than that, you need to give employees a chance to prove themselves.
When your team member has an ambitious idea, encourage them. When an employee seems bored, see if there’s a more advanced project they can take on. If a worker wants to learn a new skill, support them with time or money.
Your employees will feel like they’re learning and growing. They’ll see their job as a long-term investment. They’ll sustain employee engagement. Better yet, they’ll surprise you with how fast they learn and improve.
A challenging but safe work environment
While employees today want challenging opportunities, they also want to feel supported.
Employers sometimes mistake excessive work pressure for high standards. When employees are pushed too hard, they stop taking risks and become less creative. Eventually, they quit.
Employees increasingly expect support for their well-being. When they receive that support, they flourish. It’s not just that they become more loyal. They also work better—smarter, harder, and more creatively, all at once.
Before the pandemic, many employees felt micromanaged. Remote work gave some of them a taste of newfound independence.
Micromanaging doesn’t just irritate employees. It makes them less effective. When people don’t feel trusted, their morale (and productivity) drop.
Trust gives employees validation. It also empowers them. Empowered employees don’t just do the tasks they’re assigned. Instead, they actively find ways to improve your organization.
If you want to meet employee expectations, you need to stop micromanaging and start promoting leadership.
How to meet the expectations of your employees
Meeting new employee expectations isn’t easy. It requires time and culture shifts. With the right approach, though, you can change your organization faster than you think.
1. Diagnose employee expectations.
We’ve mentioned some common expectations above, but it’s not an exhaustive list. It’s also not universal.
Some of the suggestions don’t apply to all industries. Even within an industry, different employees might have different preferences. The best way to learn employee expectations isn’t to read an article—it’s to ask them.
Start by using an employee engagement diagnostic to figure out if there’s a mismatch between your expectations and your employees’ expectations. Your human resources department can help with this.
If employees feel satisfied, that’s okay—you might not need big changes! If morale is low, you’ll need a more aggressive approach.
Of course, surveying your employees isn’t just about metrics. It’s also about getting feedback. Check if there are any trends in the responses. If half your organization wants something, it’s probably a good idea to implement it.
2. Address employee expectations.
Most of these expectations can’t just be met with an email. They may require a change in company values and culture.
Start by leading from the front. You might say you want a better work-life balance, but if employees see you in the office until midnight, they’ll get a different message. Be someone they can emulate.
Next, reward employees who embrace the changes. If you want more mentors, give employees recognition for mentorship. If you want to provide hybrid work options, reward managers whose teams adopt them. Make addressing employee expectations a priority, or no one else will.
Finally, be open to experimentation. Meeting some of these expectations might take time to figure out. Make sure you’re ready to make changes before things go wrong.
3. Advertise the changes.
Meeting employee expectations helps internally. But if you want to get the full benefit, you need to let people outside your organization know too.
That doesn’t just mean updating your website. You should start where it counts: Your candidate pipeline.
Your job descriptions shouldn’t just outline work requirements. Instead, they should advertise why your company is incredible to work for. Candidates should know what to expect before the first interview.
Once the interview process begins, continue to hammer home what you have to offer. If a candidate gets flooded with offers, excellent perks might be enough to sway them.
When your candidate accepts their new job and begins onboarding, shift from advertising to emphasizing. Let them know your new benefits aren’t just theoretical—they’re there to be used.
Finally, continue to push for and advertise your changes within. Otherwise, employees may forget the benefits that attracted them in the first place.
4. Inspire employees in the long-term.
We’ve talked a lot about concrete benefits: remote work, flexible schedules, mentorship. But do you meet employees’ behavioral expectations?
Different people like to be managed in different ways. Some people like public recognition. Others like a sense of accomplishment. Others like collaboration. If people’s jobs and managers don’t fit their behaviors, no amount of flexibility is going to stop them from quitting.
Behavioral tools like PI Inspire™ help by letting you know what your employees need. PI Inspire™ doesn’t just tell you what an employee’s personality is—it tells you how they’re likely to interact with their entire team, manager included. If an employee struggles or underperforms, PI Inspire™ provides actionable advice for how to improve output, and make them feel connected to your organization.
Meeting employee expectations can seem challenging, but in the modern workplace, it’s essential. By making your employees satisfied and empowered, you’ll unlock better candidates, reduce turnover—and realize the true potential of your organization.