Some managers are struggling with the Generation X and Y employees. The younger (almost) half of our workforce has been branded as having a sense of entitlement. They are smart, technically savvy and expect to be placed on the fast track to management as a result of completing their orientation.
Entitled employees come in all ages. Boomers and Traditionalists who believe they have paid their dues may feel just as entitled. Employee entitlement may be more a result of nurture, than nature.
An organizational psychologist, Ben Dattner believes employee entitlement is the result of a faulty psychological contract. This contract is the employee’s understanding of what the employee contributes to the company and what he expects in return. When people are promised something, they feel entitled to receive it.
Companies that do not have clearly defined expectations and/or do not hold employees accountable for these expectations are most likely to have an entitled workforce. Another way to build an entitled workforce is to attempt to satisfy employees by responding to their wants, such as new chairs or a bigger break area. Quick fixes don’t build sustainable morale, they only raise the employees’ expectations.
Combating entitlement requires good management beginning with clarified expectations. Clearly communicated job descriptions, performance expectations and compensation systems should be aligned with company goals.
The employee’s performance and the company’s financial performance should be tied to individual compensation. The company needs to communicate this connection and keep employees informed of the company’s performance along with individual performance measures.
Managers require the skills to accurately assess and improve employee performance. Managers need the knowledge and communication skills to draw a line between the company’s purpose and the employees’ accomplishments. To create accountability, it is essential managers use observable and measurable terms when communicating about performance.
When employers reward experience and credentials, time in the office, tenure and loyalty; employees learn to believe they’re entitled. Employment-based rewards include health and wellness programs, stock options, tuition reimbursement, training, and company events. Performance-based rewards include variable pay, spot awards, stock options, special assignments, recognition trips and promotions.
According to reward systems authority Thomas Wilson, rewards based on personal goal achievement will lead to a culture of compliance. Tying achievement to data and metric-based company goals lead to a culture of achievement.
Analyze your employee rewards to determine how your system is contributing to the entitlement mentality. Combat it with measurable performance expectations linked to company performance.
Rewards not earned are not appreciated.