Employee Expectations: Setting Them From the First Interview

All workplaces have expectations, both formal and informal. Ensuring that new employees understand the culture and guidelines of working for your company will help them transition into their role more smoothly. Take the time to establish a clear and straightforward process for explaining employee expectations, beginning with the job interview, to make sure your new hires fully understand what to expect when working for your company. Learn about common employee expectations, review why it’s important to establish expectations early, understand how to set clear employee expectations and assess frequently asked questions about employee expectations. 


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What are employee expectations?

Employee expectations are the tasks, guidelines and structures a company expects its staff members to abide by. While expectations for company staff members can cover a broad spectrum, usually employee expectations refer specifically to job-related tasks and goals. Most employee expectations fall into one of these categories:

  • Responsibilities: Job responsibilities are the specific tasks the company expects the employee to perform as a part of their position. 
  • Work hours: Work hours are the hours the employee can expect to work. Depending on the position, work hours might be consistent or may change from day to day to meet the needs of the company. 
  • Leadership: Leadership expectations include what the employee can expect from the company in terms of mentorship, supervision and performance reviews. 
  • Advancement: Advancement expectations describe the path the employee can take to rise through the ranks of the company. 

Related: New Hire Packets: Three Surprising Things to Include


Why it’s important to set employee expectations from the beginning

It’s necessary to clearly explain all facets of employee expectations as early as possible in the professional relationship with a new hire. When employees have inaccurate expectations for their job, they’re more likely to initially struggle to meet expectations and to feel disappointed with the position in the long-term. 

Ensuring that employees understand exactly what their new position entails, what their work hours will be, how supervisors will review their work and whether they can expect to continue their career long-term with the company can help employees feel empowered to do their best work. Empowered employees are generally more satisfied with the work that they do and are more productive than those who feel confused about what they should be doing on the job. 

Related: Interviewing Strategies for New Hires: Best Practices


How to set clear expectations for employees

Follow these five steps to establish clear employee expectations for better staff engagement and increased productivity:


1. Establish expectations

Before you can share expectations with your employees, you must establish clear and specific expectations for each position. Write out a list of employee expectations for the four categories — position responsibilities, work hours, leadership and advancement — for all positions. 


2. Share expectations

If current employees don’t have a clear idea of their employee expectations, share the list you established with them. Field any questions and clarify details as needed. For new hires, introduce expectations as early as possible. Consider including key details, like main job responsibilities and work hours, in the job posting. Address all employee expectations explicitly during the job interview. Confer with employees currently in those positions and with human resources to ensure you fully understand the position’s responsibilities. 


3. Include expectations

Add the employee expectations to your employee handbook. Make a review of the expectations a part of the onboarding process for new hires. Ensure that all employees, both old and new, are aware of any updates to employee expectations and know where to look to find the employee expectations for their position for reference. 


4. Follow up with new hires

After a new hire’s first few weeks on the job, ask them how the employee expectations provided during the job interview and onboarding align with the actuality of working for the company. Make sure they feel comfortable with the expectations. Answer any questions they might have and clarify any uncertain employee expectation details. 


5. Assess and update

Periodically, sit down with your human resources team to review all employee expectations and update them as needed. It’s prudent to poll your employees prior to meeting with human resources to help identify any specific areas that might need adjusting. 


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Frequently asked questions about employee expectations

What are workplace expectations?

Workplace expectations are the guidelines for how employees conduct themselves in the office, field or other work environments. Usually, workplace expectations cover guidelines like dress code, company culture and shared space expectations. Workplace expectations, unlike employee expectations, are not job specific. Instead they apply to everyone who works in the office or workspace.

What are performance expectations?

Performance expectations refer to the company’s guidelines for employee productivity. Performance expectations are closely related to employee expectations, and you might share them with your employees at the same time. Usually, performance expectations describe how the work the employee does directly impacts the overall success of the company. Depending on the role, you might provide specific goals or metrics to meet in order for the employee to maintain personal, team and company performance standards.

What are professional expectations?

Professional expectations guide the employee’s interactions when operating in a professional space. Some employees meet with clients outside of the office or attend industry events outside of work hours. Establishing professional expectations for how your employees conduct themselves in these scenarios ensures that your company is well-represented no matter what the scenario. Often, professional expectations provide guidelines for actions like drinking alcohol, accepting gifts and discussing personal topics while on a professional assignment.

Setting clear employee expectations can help ensure employee confidence and job satisfaction. If you don’t have established employee expectations, take the time to create them for current employees. When recruiting new employees, be sure to share employee expectations in the job interview or as early as possible.

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