Employee values and expectations vary from individual to individual, though there are some universal values and expectations that might be generalized to employees across most industries. Among these more generalized expectations include the desire for good pay and benefits, job security and work life balance opportunities.
When developing a reward system it is vital that the organization incorporate these universal employee values and expectations into the reward system so that the outcome of the system is beneficial for the employees involved. It is also in the best interests of organizational planners to assess individual employee values and motivations in order to devise a reward and recognition program that focuses on independent employee needs rather than lumping all employees into the same category. These ideas and more are explored in greater detail below.
Good employee relations and subsequent reward systems are contingent on the ability of HR management and supervisors to recognize employee values and expectations and allow employees the opportunity to express themselves openly and honesty. A philosophy that puts employees first and recognizes employees as a corporation's most important asset generally results in a successful environment where this can be accomplished (Denton, 1992).
A corporation must impress upon employees using deeds and actions rather than simply vocalizing their opinions (Denton, 1992). Among other things employees value opportunity to advance within the company and expect that an extensive job posting system will be available that will keep them informed of the opportunities available to them (Denton, 1992). In addition employees value an extensive training and orientation program that expresses the corporation's values, so that employees have the opportunity to structure their own goals and value system around that of the company.
Employees also value recognition of consistent performance relative to peers in a firm (Zenger, 1992). This suggests that employees desire evaluations and recognition independent of their peers.
Employees also value work life balance and the ability to work effectively but also care for their children and find adequate child care assistance; those firms that offer some benefits in this department are typically more competitive and experience less turn over (Champion-Hughes, 2001). Employees also expect that an employer will provide them with adequate medical coverage, particularly when the health care crisis is growing in the country today (Champion-Hughes, 2001).
Among the top ranked categories in a recent survey that measured employee satisfaction and expectations included the following: good benefits, job security, good pay, job recognition and family friendly benefits (Champion-Hughes, 2001). Most of these factors rank equally in a general survey, however among individual employees each of these factors was weighted differently, with some employees more interested in a family friendly atmosphere whereas others more interested in good benefits or pay and job security.
Still other studies suggest that employees expect that pay will be linked to individual capabilities and that a compensation and reward system that provides incentives for individuals to develop their individual capabilities is the most likely to generate improved results and contribute to overall employee satisfaction and a productive work environment (Risher, 2000). Thus it might benefit employers to develop a reward and compensation system that takes into consideration individual skills, abilities, talents and contributions.
Employees also value personal feedback with regard to their performance and efforts, particularly when they have worked diligently to complete or contribute to a significant body of work or project. Employees who receive recognition for a job well done are more likely to contribute to an organization's success than those who do not, and feedback is often more important than monetary rewards for performance efforts (Moses, 2001).
Other values and expectations that employees have include a desire for independent bonuses, flexible or additional vacation days, opportunities for advanced skill training and even commemorative plaques that recognize loyalty and service, particularly if given with respect to a team effort or function (Moses, 2001).
To craft a reward and recognition system that is successful an organization has to work at understanding what the personal values and motivators are of individual employees. Employees can be broken down into several categories. One category of employees is those that are motivated by opportunity (Moses, 2001). These employees are more likely to express an interest in learning, training and advancing within the company.
Other employees are motivated by "authenticity" or their desire to express their personality within the workplace and express their personal values (Moses, 2001). These individuals typically seek out a flexible work environment that allows some personal freedoms. There are many organizations that have adopted a culture that encourages independent expression and personality. These organizations are more apt to be appealing to employees who are motivated and value authenticity in the workplace and a desire to express their creativity.
Still others may be considered 'lifestylers' interested in establishing work life balance (Moses, 2001). They are individuals looking for the opportunity to enjoy work but also have time for their family. A reward and recognition system that offers additional vacation days, more flex time, flexible scheduling or even child care bonuses or discounts might prove most beneficial for employees that fall into the lifestyle category.
Other workers are looking for mentoring and accountability of their actions, as well as opportunities to participate in corporate events and meetings. They may be more responsive to bonuses or pay opportunities and may be independent thinkers looking for an opportunity to excel in the corporation.
They may desire the opportunity to develop solutions or problem solve and contribute to the organization from a research and development perspective.
Many people assume that employees value monetary rewards and a merit pay based and rewards-based system, but studies of employee attitudes and behaviors show otherwise (Risher, 1999). Employees may not be satisfied merely with monetary recognition if they are seeking recognition for personal achievements or opportunities for advancement.
Values and Expectations: An Organizational Fit?
As described from past experienced and research available with respect to employee values and expectations, employees expect much more than pay from a rewards system. A rewards system that is oriented toward individuals and achievements rather than money only is more likely to be impacting than one that isn't.
Among the top expectations and values for employees include job security, good benefits, recognition for individual contributions, the opportunity for creating work life balance and even training opportunities.
These values and expectations do fit in well with my organization's current reward system, which recognizes the need for employees to establish a work life balance. Flexible scheduling is offered as well as additional vacation days for employees who have contributed to a major project or function.
Regular feedback is also provided to employees through performance evaluations and other measures that are conducted on a semi-annual basis.
I believe that employees are individuals, and that for any reward and recognition system to function adequately it must look at the employee as a whole rather than lump the employee into a group.
As Moses (2001) points out it is vital that organizations recognize that there are many different types of employees. There are those that are motivated by opportunities for advancement, those that are looking for training opportunities, those that want to contribute to the team or have the opportunity to freely express themselves and those seeking work life balance.
A reward system that is multi-faceted and approaches employee rewards and recognition from many different angles is bound to cover all of these bases in a successful manner. Employees that perceive that their individual preferences and needs are addressed are much more likely to stay with a corporation for the long-term than those who feel they are simply a number.
It is vital that employers survey their staff and identify what the existing culture is within an organization before a successful rewards and recognition program can be…