Managing Employee Entitlement

This week I have had numerous conversations with a variety of businesses. They are all reporting the same concerns. The first has to do with the challenges of finding and keeping employees. Businesses are reporting that potential employees  either turn down job offers due to wages or new employees do not last past the first few days because they will find a higher paying job or they leave because they feel they should have entitlements, once they discover the duties/tasks required they don’t want to do the work.

One business told me that a new employee was still in orientation when asked how soon they could get a management position. A couple of other businesses reported that employees quit suddenly over required job duties. These job duties were normal for the job.

Entitlement is the belief that a person has a right to special treatment, whether or not they earned it.

Like peeling an onion, there are so many layers to this topic that include things like:

  • Wages
    • College graduates think they are entitled to high paying start wages just because they went to college.
    • Other employers seek raises frequently because they performed their minimum duties.
  • Job Duties
  • Hours/Flexible schedules

Often Millennials and Gen Z are labeled as being the “entitled generations” and that is not the case. Entitlement stretches across generations and is not limited to one demographic. Research has shown that the Millennials and Gen Z’s entitlement are just more pronounced than previous generations.

Entrepreneur.com had an article that stated, “At work and home, entitlement is the enemy of success.”

There are some tools that employers can use help deal with employees that display entitlement attitudes and behaviors which are:

  1. Identify and Set Workplace Expectations

The reason people act entitled is that they think and believe they are entitled to more than they are getting.  Ask questions to clarify and understand them for where their expectations are. Clear, concise and transparent communication. As a leader be sure that you do not allow employees to play by different rules. Meaning the expectations and duties of the job are the same for the brand-new hire as it is for the more seasoned employee.

  1. Support your position and align incentivizes.

Employee desires need to align with workplace expectations. Look for creative ways to reward current performance.  This includes as a leader to help employees make responsible and professional goals, and helping them deal with failures.

  1. Demonstrate Appreciation

Words of affirmation need to be heard by all generations in today’s workplace.  When expectations are met and exceeded be sure to acknowledge them and let them know of your gratitude. Remember the Fred Factor, the simple act of a stranger taking a moment to thank a busboy for doing his job made a huge difference in the life of that employee.

I recommend everyone watching this Entitlement Creed, this quick video it outlines the entitlements that businesses/organizations demand from their employees which include:

  • Arriving to work on time
  • Dressing and speaking appropriately
  • Being positive/enthusiastic about your tasks
  • Do the work your paid to do the best of your ability and then some.
  • Continually look for ways to achieve, excel and solve problems
  • Enjoy your work and follow company policies

Remember the customers pay your wages and keep the business in operation.

When it comes to entitlement in the workplace, promotions, good pay and titles are earned, and are not to be expected. Everyone regardless of the field or profession start at the entry level.  Businesses succeed when employees and owners work together to deliver the best service and products to the customers. 

Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director