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As a new employee, you need to know what your employer’s expectations at work are. A large part of these expectations should be provided to you as part of the interview process, whether it is through the questions your employer asks or information that is conveyed directly to you. During the interview, be sure to jot down any questions you may have for your employer regarding expectations and remember to ask them at the end of your interview. This will allow you to make an informed decision about working for the company if you are offered a position.
Once you arrive at your new job, your employer or another employee of the company should put you through an orientation process. If it is a large company, you may be one of several people in this process, or in a smaller organization it could be as simple as a one-on-one conversation with your supervisor that may be supplemented by written information. Again, be sure to keep track of any questions you may have and ask them at the appropriate time, and always ask where you should go if you have additional questions following the orientation.
Knowing what is expected of you and who you should turn to for additional information will help reduce stress and allow you to be a more effective worker.
Additional employer expectations may also be conveyed at any point during your employment (e.g., when a new manager or supervisor is hired), so it is important to pay attention and ask for clarification as required.
What Employers Want in an Employee
Employers want individuals who have the necessary skills to perform the job and be able to adapt to changes in the workplace. This includes both hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are credentials and other skills that you have mastered. These include diplomas, certificates, and/or credentials that attest to your competencies and ability to perform certain tasks, such as a Red Seal in carpentry, a WMHIS certificate, a FOODSAFE Level 1 certificate, or a certificate of qualification for Steamfitter Level 1. Hard skills also include skills for which you may not have a formal certificate but have reached a level of competency, such as working knowledge of a foreign language or Microsoft Office.
Soft skills are your “people skills” and include attributes such as being:
- dependable and punctual (showing up on time and ready to work and not being a liability)
- enthusiastic (having a positive impact that enhances the organization)
- willing to learn (lifelong learner)
- able to accept constructive criticism
- a good problem solver
- strong in customer service skills
- adaptable (willing to change and take on new challenges)
- a team player
- positive in attitude
- strong in communication skills
- good in essential work skills (following instructions, demonstrating critical thinking skills, knowing limits)
- safety conscious
- strong in time management
What Workers Expect from Their Employers
Employees want many of the same things as their employers, including:
- respect in the workplace
- equal treatment (adhering to anti-discrimination laws that prohibit unfair employment practices based on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion)
- a safe work environment
- communication (about the company, their team, their performance)
- recognition (tangible and non-tangible)
- recognition that there is life outside of work (boundaries)
- problems being handled efficiently and effectively
- good salary and benefits (if applicable)
- parental benefits (if applicable)
- flexible schedules (for those with families to accommodate childcare needs)
- continued learning and education on new technologies.
Younger workers and graduates also have a greater concern for:
- work-life balance
- flexibility (telecommuting, techno-savvy)
- being more entrepreneurial (self-starters; starting their own businesses and working as a subcontractor rather than an employee)
- flexibility as a sign of success, not just salary
- more meaningful work that leverages their strengths
The ability of employers to accommodate some of these expectations is also tied to the individual occupation and whether greater flexibility is feasible. For example, working from home and setting your own hours is not feasible for a carpenter on a large construction site, but it may be feasible for an electrician to work as a subcontractor in the evenings for a small company that provides service to residential clients.
During your interview and again after you are hired, your employer will go through the expectations for the job, and it is important that you meet these expectations once you begin to work.
Communication is central to meeting expectations, on the part of both the employer and the employee. It is important to be an active listener, ask questions when you are unsure, and be proactive when you need more information. In small companies, you may be dealing with only one or two people. In larger companies, you may be provided with written information regarding policies, procedures, and workplace orientations, and you may be dealing with several different people or departments. For example, you may have to interact with your direct supervisor, human resources, the environmental safety officer, and your union shop steward.
Punctuality and attendance
Being punctual and showing up for work are not optional. Failing to show up where and when expected is one of the easiest ways for your supervisor and co-workers to lose confidence in your abilities. They rely on you to be at work or on a job site, and your absence can adversely affect the company in several ways: for example, not meeting schedules, additional financial costs, increasing the workload of your co-workers, and damaging a relationship with a client who expects a job to be completed. For an employee, being late or not showing up can also result in a loss of wages, a verbal or written warning from the supervisor, not passing probation, negative feedback on job evaluations, lack of promotions or raises, or the loss of a job.
It is important that you keep to the work schedule assigned. Whenever possible, provide your employer with sufficient notice if you need to take time off or if there are any issues that could affect your work schedule. For example, if a health or family issue requires you to take a few days off or make you late, discuss the situation with your supervisor to see if a solution can be found. If an absence or lateness can’t be avoided, make sure that you communicate with your supervisor and co-workers as soon as possible so that they know that you are delayed and are on your way or that you will be absent.
Conducting personal business and wasting time during working hours costs an employer time and money. Try to adhere to your lunch hours and breaks at all times. Keep up to date with your schedule and the activities that you should be accomplishing during your workday. If you need help, use a smart phone application or a handwritten schedule to keep track of your time and commitments.
Doing the job right means doing it correctly, working neatly, handling equipment and materials properly, and working safely. When a job is done correctly it will look good and function well for many years and be a testament to your skills and work ethic. It can also help build the reputation of a company and attract new and repeat clients. A job done wrong costs an employer money to redo it, can lead to significant delays in schedule, be a source of conflict with clients, and be detrimental to a company’s ability to attract new customers.
A neat and organized job site pleases both customers and employers. If you are working for a client, it is important to demonstrate respect for their workplace and possessions. Keeping a neat worksite provides them with a level of confidence regarding your personal work habits and also reduces the risk of accident.
Proper handling and use of equipment and materials is also integral to performing the job right. If you are using a new piece of equipment or new materials, do your homework. Read up on how to use these items and discuss it with your supervisor. Proper usage of equipment reduces the chance of injury and minimizes waste. Knowing how to use new materials eliminates waste and ensures that the materials are installed according to manufacturer specifications.
Finally, safety on the job site is a top priority for all employers. Following workplace safety regulations and rules increases not only your safety but also that of your co-workers. It is important to be proactive and know where all of the safety features are at a job site, such as fire extinguishers, fire exits, and first aid kits. It is also important to wear all required PPE, and exchange damaged or improperly fitting PPE for new or properly fitting PPE. It is important to acknowledge that safety on the job is not just limited to physical safety; psychological safety is also a consideration for workers due to bullying and harassment if you witness or are the target of bullying or harassment it is important to speak up. If you see an unsafe condition or a safety violation, you can prevent accidents by doing something about it immediately. If you find a safety hazard, take action in one or more of the following ways:
- Follow the established procedures or protocols set by your company.
- Try to correct the unsafe condition.
- Warn others.
- Inform your supervisor.
- Inform those who caused the safety violation.
- Inform the safety officer or repair staff.
- Check that the violation has been corrected.
Now complete the Learning Task Self-Test.
- Where do most employers convey their expectations of potential employees?
- On their website
- In the job posting
- In the interview process
- In their employee handbook
- Employers want individuals with the skills to perform the job now and adapt to changes in the future.
- Which of the following is not a hard skill?
- Having FOODSAFE Level 1 certificate
- Being fluently bilingual (English-French)
- The ability to work well under pressure
- Having the Red Seal endorsement in carpentry
- Which of the following is not a soft skill?
- Being a lifelong learner
- Being fluently bilingual (English-French)
- The ability to work well under pressure
- Employee expectations are very different from employer expectations.
- Which of the following concerns is most expressed by recent graduates and younger workers?
- Good salaries and benefits
- Respect in the workplace and recognition
- Equal treatment and a safe working environment
- Increased flexibility, entrepreneurship, and work-life balance
- Communication is central to meeting expectations on the part of the employer and employee.
- Which of the following do employers expect from their workers?
- Effective time management
- Strong work ethic, punctuality, and attendance
- All of the above
- None of the above
- Which of the following does a strong work ethic not include?
- Safety on the job site
- A neat and organized job site
- Ability to determine your working hours
- Proper handling and use of equipment and materials
- Bullying and harassment is a safety issue on the job site that should be reported immediately.
See the Answer Key in the back matter of the textbook for self-test answers.