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How to Close the Gap Between Employer and Employee Expectations

Posted by: on 11 May 2018 in Human Capital Management

When it comes to workplace expectations, employers and employees are often on different pages. In some cases they’re reading entirely different chapters.

The disconnect encompasses everything from how employees should be recruited, managed and retained to the organization’s performance, according to the ADP Research Institute’s “Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset” report. This report — based on a survey of 5,330 employees and 3,218 employers at global companies with 50 or more employees — shows how gaps in expectations can create contradictory attitudes and behaviors.

The reports states, for example, that “a majority of employees take pride in their work and have greater loyalty to their companies than employers estimate,” debunking a long-standing belief that corporate loyalty is on the decline. At the same time, two-thirds of employees are still looking for or are open to a new job, which is turning the workplace into a “perpetual dating game” for even the most dedicated workers.

Organizations overestimate the number of active job seekers (those sending out resumes) while underestimating passive job seekers (those who have jobs but are open to other opportunities). As a result, organizations put most of their resources and energy into recruiting and onboarding new employees, but then quickly shift their attention to the next candidate, often leaving new recruits feeling adrift.

“The overall talent journey is not only about attracting, but also engaging and retaining,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president of market insights and analytics and head of the ADP Research Institute.

So how can organizations close the expectations gap? The ADP report provides some surprising answers. For instance, compensation matters to the extent that employers need good benchmarking tools to understand what their industry and their competitors are paying. But money is not the only factor in attracting and retaining talent. Organizations also need to appreciate the importance that employees place on their work itself, on their hours, on time off and on their relationships with their direct managers.

ADP has a few recommendations to help close the gap:

Re-humanize the work experience

While employers believe they are doing an admirable job of managing talent, employees are much less impressed by their efforts. For example, only about a third of workers in the United States give their employers high marks for career development.

One of the core reasons for the current shortage in skilled talent is the decrease in training funding over the past decade, Yildirmaz said. In the United States, career planning isn’t even a top driver for talent management. Workers often see training efforts as generic and perfunctory rather than as personal and meaningful.

HR professionals can strengthen employer-employee relationships by abandoning a one-size-fits-all approach to managing talent, an approach that can dehumanize the actual work experience. For example, large multinational companies can tailor talent management to the needs of the local/regional workforce.

Stress why employees’ work matters

Around the globe, 82 percent of employees say they want to play important roles in their companies. This desire to be an integral part of the organization also extends to people seeking jobs elsewhere.

Still, it seems employees have trouble understanding their importance and how they make a difference because organizations view jobs as simply transactional. Even more distressingly, employers don’t grasp the degree to which employees feel valued or recognized for the work they do. In all 13 countries in the survey, more employees feel undervalued than employers believe.

This view is harmful to both sides. “If employees are engaged, they are much more aligned with the employer’s strategy,” Yildirmaz said.

Employee job satisfaction is tied to how useful and connected workers feel — and whether they can provide meaningful feedback. One key, the survey finds, is to strengthen relationships between employees and the people to whom they report. In every country except India, fewer than half of employees feel connected to their direct managers. They also feel a disconnect with company leadership and senior management.

Keep your hiring promises

In 11 of the 13 countries represented in the survey, work hours are among the top three factors in job selection. And although employees are often promised work-life balance during their job interviews, when they come aboard they find they are expected to work on weekends or respond to emails around the clock.

This “bait and switch” — whether intended or not — is part of the reason 47 percent of employees have walked away from jobs that did not meet their expectations. “Companies must deliver on the promises they make during the attraction phase,” Yildirmaz said.

A Clarion Call For Companies

Overall, the survey highlights the need for organizations to humanize the workplace and move beyond traditional HR approaches.

For example, organizations can ask employees to quantify and detail the attributes and strengths they feel make them successful in their current roles and use these findings to ramp up career development programs. They can solicit employees’ ideas on future roles they’d like to pursue and perhaps discuss these ideas in the context of broader industry career trends.

“Employers must engage their talent by supporting their development goals and creating cultures that foster meaningful human connections,” Yildirmaz said.

By aligning the expectations of employees and employers, both can thrive, creating a workplace that meets the emotional and career needs of its occupants, as well as the business needs of the company.

For more insights visit the ADP Research Institute’s Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset full report.

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TAGS: employee experience Evolution of Work expectation HCM talent management work experience workforce management

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