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Employee Demands are Changing – Is Your Leadership Ready?

Fifty years ago, the main thing that employees expected from a job was a paycheck. People were told that they should get the best paying job they could, and that was that. But times have changed. The modern employee realizes that a job with better pay isn’t always the job that’s best for the individual. Beyond paychecks and benefits, modern employees have come to expect more from their careers and from their employers. The main question that remains today is whether companies are up to the task of meeting evolving employee demands.

The first step in arriving at the answer is knowing what exactly employees today want and how companies may have to change in order to meet those needs. Workplace development isn’t something that happens overnight – it’s a process. But the process can’t begin until leadership knows what they’re up against. With that in mind, here are some of the most common employee demands today and strategies for companies to address them.

1. Employees demand coaches, not bosses

The top reason that employees give for leaving their jobs is not liking their manager. A bad boss can be a serious detriment to an entire department – demotivating employees, making them feel under-appreciated, under-utilized, or overly scrutinized. Leadership development programs are essential within any company to help ensure that leaders gain the skills needed to effectively encourage, inspire, and coach the people who work for them. 

2. Employees demand purpose and progress

This is especially true among standout employees with high levels of potential. The best employees want to feel like they’re contributing to a greater whole, doing work they believe in, and also doing work that will elevate their career. Leaders must always look for ways to help top employees learn new skills, make lateral moves, and take charge of their own projects. 

3. Employees demand flexibility

Almost every employee wants flexibility in their work life, especially in the most demanding careers, but very few employees get it. Some employees are given vacation but have no real mechanism for taking it, because there’s no one to cover their work while they’re gone. Others would benefit from flexible work hours or a 4/40 schedule. What works best for your company will depend on your size, business type, and unique employees. What matters here is listening to employee needs and working to find a reasonable solution.

4. Employees demand accountability

Headline-making events like the Google walkout have shown a light on the growing need that employees have for their companies to be accountable to them. That can mean clearer, more transparent sexual harassment policies, an end to forced arbitration, and a clear understanding of what employees at different levels – regardless of gender – are paid. This is an area where companies need to take responsibility for their own actions, flush out bad behavior, and work toward a more inclusive future. Doing so is never easy, but is always worthwhile.

About Joy Ruhmann
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