The Fine Line Between What You Do and Don't Owe Employees
As a first-time business owner and boss, managing a team can be a new experience. You may not quite sure what employees expect or what you owe them as their employer.
Employees expect certain things when they come on board and, in many cases, employers should deliver. For new employers, satisfying employee expectations is especially important, as it can have a great impact on the employer brand. And the employer brand can potentially make or break a new business.
Here are four basic things employers, both new and experienced, owe their employees -- and four things they don’t:
1. A safe place to work
This may seem obvious, but at the very least, employers owe their employees a safe place to work. Their work environment should be free of any safety hazards -- both physical and emotional. In addition to taking preventative measures to ensure employee safety, employers should create a work environment that is comfortable and conducive to productivity.
For instance, make sure the office is well lit (no one works well under flickering fluorescents), the temperature is at an appropriate level and the office space is free of unnecessary clutter.
What’s not owed: A ping-pong table. As more companies begin to offer fun work perks, more job seekers have come to expect them and get disappointed when they aren’t offered. But it’s the office culture and environment, not the physical perks, that truly matter.
While it’s advantageous to create an enjoyable work environment, employers don’t owe it to their employees to provide game rooms, nap time, free daily catered lunches and the like -- although, a little fun never hurt anyone.
2. A sense of transparency
Employers should strive to maintain a sense of transparency with employees -- beginning with the hiring process. Potential employees should understand exactly what will be expected of them, and current employees should know how their work contributes to company-wide goals.
In short, keep employees in the loop (about the good, the bad and formal or informal company matters). After all, a better understanding results in better work.
What’s not owed: 360-degree transparency. Transparency in the workplace is necessary for employee satisfaction and engagement, but the line should be drawn somewhere. That line often varies from company to company. For some, it starts at company financials, and for others at hires and terminations, etc.
3. A balanced schedule
With 74 percent of the 1,500 job seekers surveyed in a 2014 FlexJobs survey saying work-life balance is the primary reason they seek out flexible work options, employers should consider working with employees to create a schedule that allows for greater work-life balance. Paid parental leave, use-it-or-lose it policies and the like are benefits employees value and deserve.
What’s not owed: A radically flexible work environment. While allowing employees to design their work schedules or work from home can instill a better sense of work-life balance, employers don’t owe employees those alternative work schedules. Not everyone is cut out to work well from other environments, and it’s up to employers to decide whether the business can handle such schedules.
4. A chance to grow
Employees serve as a company’s most important asset. As such, employers owe employees a chance to grow as professionals. From a detailed onboarding process for new hires to professional training and development opportunities for current employees, give employees an opportunity to improve.
In addition to providing employee training, employers can help their employees grow by giving them regular feedback. Employees are owed that much, at a minimum.
What’s not owed: A promotion. Employees deserve an opportunity to receive training or attend professional development events, but that professional growth doesn’t have to result in a new title every year. There are other ways to reward employees and, especially for startups, career advancement may not be an available option -- just one more reason why employers should be transparent during the hiring process.
What do you believe employers owe (or don’t owe) employees? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!