Common employer expectations and tips for meeting them

Updated 25 May 2023

Employers have clear ideas about how they wish their employees to act in the workplace. These expectations can relate to aspects of an employee's personality, such as their capacity to behave in a respectful manner. Understanding what an employer expects can be a vital part of your career journey, as exceeding expectations can be an excellent way to open career advancement opportunities. In this article, we learn what employer expectations are, look at common examples and explore tips for how to conduct yourself the way your employer expects.

What are employer expectations?

Employer expectations are what employers look for new employees to do beyond simply completing their job duties. Specific expectations may change depending on the industry or your job role, but there are some common expectations employers tend to have. They relate to your personality and your capacity to be an effective member of an organisation's community who makes positive contributions and adds value. Expectations often relate to things like motivation and respect for yourself, your employer and your colleagues. Meeting and exceeding these expectations can be a crucial factor in career advancement.

Related: Guide to understanding the expectations of a manager

Common expectations employers have for new employees

Here are some traits and skills an employer may expect a new employee to have:

1. Punctuality

Organisations expect you to be punctual in your work. It shows respect for everyone's time and demonstrates your commitment to your role. Punctuality is also an indicator of good organisation skills and overall reliability. When your employer views you as reliable and organised, they may feel comfortable trusting you with greater responsibilities, perhaps eventually giving you opportunities to advance to more senior roles.

2. Professionalism

There are certain ways to conduct yourself in a workplace setting. Professionalism covers a variety of behaviours but basically stems from a fundamental respect for yourself, your colleagues, your work and the organisation. Professionalism can begin with how you present yourself. If your employer has guidelines on appropriate dress, for example, ensure you comply with this properly. Think about your body language and how you interact with others, maintaining a professional demeanour when dealing with colleagues and customers.

Related: Key attributes of professionalism in the workplace

3. Positive attitude

Companies generally try to foster a culture that helps everyone remain motivated to do their best work. Part of establishing this environment depends on how individual employees act. For the good of the organisation's culture, employers typically expect you to have a positive attitude at work. Not only can this help with your own motivation, but it also increases the likelihood you may inspire your colleagues. Try to establish good working relationships with those around you and focus on the encouraging aspects of your job to maintain a positive outlook.

4. Dependability

Employers expect to be able to depend on employees to execute duties with autonomy. If they assign a task due the next day, they want to know they can depend on you to deliver without the need for intense supervision. A team of dependable individuals creates an efficient organisation. Be consistent in your output and work hard to always deliver to a high level. To do this, use organisational strategies you find effective. Building trust with your employer and showing yourself to be dependable may lead to opportunities for career advancement.

5. Loyalty

Employers expect their employees to be committed and loyal to the organisation. Loyalty may not mean exclusivity, as you may only work for them part-time and have simultaneous employment elsewhere. Loyalty means respecting the company's image, refraining from making disparaging remarks about them and taking your role as a representative of the organisation seriously. If you have issues at work, there are respectful ways to handle and talk about these that show your loyalty.

6. Effective communication

Employers generally expect you to be an effective communicator, both verbally and in writing. Many of your job duties may involve communication—for example, managing email correspondence or interacting with customers. Effective communication skills also let you work well with your colleagues. They can also impact your ability to add value to the organisation by expressing your ideas or innovations well. If your employer can understand your ideas, they can implement them.

Related: 6 fun communication games to improve communication skills

7. Collaborative spirit

Employers often expect employees to be able to work well with others. Embracing collaboration and having good teamworking skills allows you to make positive contributions in a team dynamic, helping make the group more effective. Being proactive in collaborating with and helping others can also indicate that you have good leadership qualities. Even if you work largely in isolation, being an open and effective collaborator can still be valuable. It can help improve workplace morale and maintain a positive organisational culture.

Related: What does collaboration mean in the workplace?

8. Self-motivation

Employers expect employees to be effective in their roles without close management. Self-motivated employees can do this, as they have an inherent drive to complete their work to a high standard. You can improve your self-motivation by employing strategies to organise your work. You might break large tasks into more easily achievable objectives, for example, which can help you maintain your motivation. Being self-motivated and delivering high-quality work on your own can help improve your employer's opinion of your dependability and effectiveness.

Related: How to be self-motivated (with steps, tips and an example)

9. Capacity to meet deadlines

The work of an individual employee contributes to the overall operation of the organisation. For the organisation to function effectively, individual employees are required to complete their work on time. Employers generally expect you to work to deadlines. If you consistently miss deadlines, this can have damaging secondary effects on the company and its clients. Work on organising and prioritising your workload. Use organisational tools like calendars or workflow management systems to ensure you meet deadlines.

10. Ability to learn from mistakes

You can't always be perfect in your work. Everyone makes mistakes, and employers appreciate this. What they expect, though, is that you handle these mistakes properly. Rather than make excuses or pass blame, learn from your mistakes. Take them as an opportunity to grow professionally. Assess why the mistake occurred, as this understanding can help prevent you from repeating the mistake in the future.

11. Good work ethic

A good work ethic goes beyond your competence and capacity to complete your duties. It relates to your personality and approach to work. For example, if you encounter obstacles and challenges, a good work ethic involves focusing on the solutions rather than lingering on the problems. Work ethic also relates to how you dedicate your work time and handle capacity. When you can't take on a requested task, working with colleagues to find an alternative solution rather than simply refusing to do the work demonstrates a good work ethic.

Related: What is work ethic and why is it important?

Tips for meeting expectations

Here are some tips that can help you meet the expectations of your employer:

Don't be afraid to ask questions

Sometimes, the simplest way to learn what an employer expects of you is to ask. If you're unclear or uncertain about how your employer wants you to conduct yourself, query it. Your employer may have different expectations, and learning about them early on can help you quickly settle into a new job. By asking, you also demonstrate a willingness to learn and a proactive nature. This can help cultivate a positive impression of you in your employer's perception.

Collaborate with your colleagues

Many employers expect employees to be good team members who collaborate well with their colleagues. Be proactive in doing this, taking any opportunities to show your communication and teamwork skills and generally reaching out and networking with those around you. Demonstrating these skills may help you progress in your career, as they show you're ready for the challenges of a management role. Engaging with your colleagues and utilising their experience and knowledge can also streamline and accelerate acclimation to a new job and your overall development.

Work hard

Working hard allows you to add value to the organisation. Consistently giving your best and performing to a high level helps highlight the value you add and can help you gain recognition for advancement opportunities. An employer may recognise you're trying your best, even if you're struggling with your duties, and thus form a good impression of your work ethic. If you work hard, they may be more inclined to help you learn and develop in your role.

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