Are Employees expecting too much from their employers?
I think it is an important question to ask. Do employees expect too much from their employers? Is our workforce turning into a bunch of entitled brats or is it fair retribution for employers abusing their power for so long?
Before you jump to any conclusions hear me out first. 20+ years ago companies could, if they wanted to, be unreasonable to employees and get away with it. However, in recent years the power has shifted.
What has changed?
A few years ago, we did not have enormous skills shortages in the workforce. Social media did not play such a major part in influencing mass behaviours. Employees tended to stick with where they were at rather than move. Employment empowerment was a concept rather than a reality.
Employees now have demands and employers give in to it. Companies are competing on benefits, retention, incentives and employee engagement unlike ever before. Some people who’ve been made redundant after years in the same job have come to the new forward-thinking companies in a career change and it’s like living on an alien planet. These new thinking employers are outstanding to work for. They really value their employees.
Why wasn’t it always like this?
If you own the company, it is natural to want the power. But you only have that power if those employees want to work for you. The dictator type Directors and Managers are seen as dinosaurs. People do not need to work for them anymore. You have a choice. And people are starting to understand this.
Sounds great. What is the problem?
To answer this here is an analogy. If you give a desperate person who needs a roof over their head a flat, they’ll be happy. Yet, naturally give it six months and they become accustomed to it and want more. In itself there is nothing wrong with anyone wanting more. However, when people expect more unreasonably, it becomes a problem.
Unreasonable expectation I determine as entitlement. And it is this entitlement that my own generation gets labelled with. I will leave it to you whether you think it is a fair label or not as that is subjective and a matter of opinion. However, it only takes a few views of LinkedIn or other social media platforms to get a sense of entitlement from certain employees.
Where does this lead?
I do not believe that most people see it as entitlement, but instead what any good employee deserves. And this in itself is fine. But the understanding is where I see problems arising from.
“I deserve more money” – Financially does it make sense for the company to pay you more money for what you do and the results you get? If it does then fair enough, but if your results are nothing to write home about then it is unreasonable to expect more as it isn’t a fair expectation.
“I deserve to work from home permanently” – If your results are notably worse when working from home then it is again an unreasonable expectation.
“I deserve a promotion” – If your results, expertise, and behaviours do not warrant it then it is again an unreasonable expectation.
In my book, I think employers and employees should treat each other like they themselves would want to be treated. And critically, expect of one another, what you yourself would want in their shoes.
I have worked for people who did not practice what they preached. And I lost respect for them. How can you truly respect someone who tells you “Do as I say, not as I do”? I have had many people work for me and the odd few I felt had unreasonable expectations. Again, why would I want someone working under me who would not follow reasonable instruction?
The idea of employee empowerment should be about fairness, not power plays. Employers should respect fairness and see their place as facilitating a great environment, package and future for their employees. Employees should understand they are being paid to do a job, but should expect fair and reasonable treatment from employers to do their jobs well and excel in what they do.
I think that is realistic and mutually beneficial.
The old saying “If you give an inch, they’ll take a mile” sums up how it can go wrong. Note the word “Can”. Most people are reasonable and try to do right. That is my philosophy anyway. However, the issue with anything that is meant to even the power distribution to a fairer level will have those odd few who abuse it.
Whether it be employers bullying staff, threatening their jobs and declaring themselves dictators or those employees who threaten to walk if they can’t work from home and then do the minimal amount, you’ll always have that element.
I think clear ground rules need to be set out so both parties understand what is expected. Trust is earned mutually, but leadership should be first to give trust. And finally, employees should seek fulfilment, not more for more’s sake. Often the pursuit of more can lead to being manipulated and going somewhere where things that sound too good to be true often are.
What do you think?