Every employer, whether subconsciously or consciously, has expectations of their employees. Things like employee performance, productivity and attitude all come with predetermined expectations. Employers have a core set of values, which are essential to the successful functioning of their businesses. It is critical that employers make expectations clear so that employees understand what is expected of them. Three areas of concern that frequently surface within the workplace are communication, time management, and the use of technology and personal devices.
There are various forms of communication in the workplace. Employers and employees communicate verbally in person or on the phone, or non-verbally through emails, memos and bulletins. Some rules and expectations are written down and some are understood implicitly. For a new employee who is unfamiliar with the work atmosphere and business, expectations and rules must be clearly communicated. Having a new employee orientation or handbook is a way to discuss company values and policies. Providing one-on-one training and supervision over a period of time can establish open dialogue for a new employee to ask questions about tasks and procedures. Regularly scheduled meetings and performance evaluations also strengthen communication between an employer and employees. Open and clear communication is the foundation of understanding expectations.
Communication between an employer and their employees is one part of effective time management. Hours of work, break times and attendance all require time management and communication. Employees should understand and follow the proper protocol for absence, arriving late and when and how long breaks are scheduled. Some businesses have a strict schedule and rules to follow, while others do not. Coming in to work 15 minutes late might be acceptable to one business while another might require a phone call or even disciplinary action. Either way, it is up to the employer to set the atmosphere and be consistent with their expectations.
Lastly, a concern for many employers is the use of technology and personal devices in the workplace, such as social networking sites, cellphones and MP3 players. As the world progresses with technology, it seems to become increasingly present in our everyday lives. And as the line between work and home blurs, so does technology use in the workplace.
While most employees would agree that using company time for personal use, such as checking cellphones or updating Facebook, is out of the question, many times these two overlap. Many businesses now have Facebook fan pages for their loyal customers. Cellphones with Internet and messaging capabilities allow employers and employees to quickly communicate with customers and clients. Employers and employees must work together to determine when use of cellphones and social networking sites are appropriate.
Some questions an employer should ask his or herself while considering this topic are: Will using a device compromise employee safety? How will this look to the public? Will this affect productivity? Are employees allowed to use their cellphones/MP3 players on breaks or should they be banned from the workplace entirely?
This is an important issue to consider, as there are many sides and angles to explore. Technology is an important evolving subject and introducing or modifying company policies will clarify questions surrounding this issue.
With clear rules and consistent enforcement, employees should understand their responsibilities and expectations. Mutual understanding and communication among employers and employees will lead to a happier and more efficient long-term business.
Most business owners and employees are people who are motivated and focused on success. Communication, time management, appropriate use of technology and other traits may not necessarily be present in employees or even employers. These qualities are gained through experience and training and must be taught and enforced in the workplace.
Kootenay Employment Services (KES) offers workshops, group assessments and human resource assistance for Creston and area businesses. If you’re a business owner and believe your business and employees can work more efficiently and effectively, KES has the resources and training expertise to assist you with these needs. Call KES at 250-428-5655 or visit www.kes.bc.ca for more information.