The basic function of the workplace is to offer a service or product, so employers will always have demands and expectations in place for workers on payroll. Similarly, employees will always have a basic expectation of compensation for their efforts. Beyond that, workplace demands and expectations quickly grow more complex and varied, depending on workplace type and personalities involved. Learning about different workplace demands and expectations can help employers and employees better communicate and negotiate their needs.
Employers have specific workplace demands and expectations for workers. Some relate to professional personality; others are task related. Among personality related demands, employers expect workers to be accountable, flexible, reliable, respectful, honest and cooperative. Employees who don’t meet these expectations can cause disruptions among other workers in the workplace or lose money for the business. Task related demands include assigned responsibilities; for example, workers might be expected to work from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., negotiate a certain percentage of sales contracts each quarter and managed a specified team of employees.
Traditional workplace expectations from employees include compensation, relative job stability, vacation time and benefits. However, these workplace demands have slowly undergone a shift since the 1990s. Employees increasingly demand greater flexibility in scheduling; for example, leaving the office early to pick up a child from school and then finishing work responsibilities at home in the evening.
Expectations from Generation Y workers raise those expectations still higher, as reported by GreenBiz.com in the article, “Gen Y's Green Demands for the Workplace.” Younger workers are demanding friendlier workplace environments; sterile-looking cubicles and windowless walls might be unacceptable to this generation. Top demands among this group include emotional engagement, a sense of community and employers that exceed basic government regulations for earth-friendly practices.
Workplace demands can come into conflict because of the differing needs between employers and employees, and among different employees. For example, employers might struggle to offer flexible scheduling to some types of workers because of the nature of their job. Secretaries must be available to answer the phone during business hours; security guards must be present to protect goods and people. This can create a hierarchy of flexibility that some workers might resent; for example, if creative designers at an architecture firm are permitted to leave early to fetch kids from school, but secretaries required to remain for a full day this can cause problems. Employers might also struggle to accommodate a Gen Y worker who wants a window view and cool, hipster music playing while a veteran worker might find the music distracting and feel they’ve earned a window seat. Employer demands can also create conflict among workers; excessively high expectations can result in stress, depression or illness.
Workplace demands and expectations should be clearly articulated by employers and employees during the hiring process. Put all requirements on paper and discuss each point to make sure all understand the responsibility involved. Unclear expectations can result dissatisfaction from both sides. Open communication lines can encourage discussions about shifting demands and expectations.