Why is this? Over the years we have witnessed the emergence of ‘Entitlement Syndrome’ which is when someone thinks about what they are entitled to before they consider anyone or anything else. Entitlement Syndrome has also led to a cultural change in many organisations with staff having highly unreasonable expectations about their entitlements. An attitude of entitlement shows up as a lack of gratitude and personal responsibility, which leads to a lack of satisfaction and an overarching propensity to blame others when things are not going the way they would like them to. Behaviours demonstrated include common use of the phrases “it’s not my job so I’m not going to do it” or “it’s not my fault, the managers don’t know what they are doing”.
When these negative attitudes become evident in a workplace, addressing them is important. There have been numerous reports written about how to engage staff with the view that if you keep staff happy you will have a productive business.Over the years we have continued to witnessed the emergence of ‘Entitlement Syndrome’. Almost all organisations have heard of, or currently implement, some form of Staff Engagement Survey.
The objective of these surveys was to assist management to understand the views and opinions of staff. They could then take action, as a result of the feedback, to keep staff happy and increase retention and job satisfaction. The number of staff who participate in these Staff Engagement Surveys and what they say about the organisation and its leaders determines the engagement percentage reported back to executives and boards. The major problem with these surveys is they are not correlated with actions or measurable outcomes in terms of how staff are engaged in the organisation. The improvement in outcomes derived from high levels of engagement among staff are dependent on the quality of action planning that the organisation undertakes after the results are provided.
If I had a dollar for every time I‘ve heard that no action has been taken in response to these surveys or I hear a CEO rant on the lack of value of these surveys because of their ineffectiveness at causing culture change, I would be rich! In a report published (2015) about staff engagement surveys, Deloitte went so far as to say that the once-a-year survey has become “perilously obsolete”. While Deloitte identified the problem, McKinsey found a possible solution in continuous shorter-term pinpointed surveys to gain company views and opinions from staff. Even organisations that develop and manage staff engagement surveys are now starting to reshape the model for gaining staff feedback through opinion and views. They do this on a more regular basis with a greater focus on actionable outcomes.
But herein lies the challenge. Many leaders don’t realise that staff engagement surveys are one of the very reasons that a culture of entitlement exists. Of even greater concern is the realisation that such surveys contribute to higher claims of bullying and harassment, larger workers compensation claims, increased sick and stress leave, and more litigation. Executives typically send engagement surveys to measure opinions on:
- Opportunities for advancement
- Opportunities for recognition
- Pay and benefits
- Position descriptions
- Opportunities for training and development
- How they find their leadership team
- Whether they are happy with their work environment
All these questions ask staff if they want more or less of something and encourage people to reflect on what’s in it for them. The questions are aimed at hearing the views and opinions of what staff want that would make them happier, or how the company can best meet their personal needs.
In a culture of entitlement it is highly likely there will be more cases of:
- Lower individual self-worth, which comes as a result of feeling like your needs are not being met
- Higher reports of job dissatisfaction when people’s views on their own entitlements are not being realised by the company
- Less personal accountability and higher incidences of blaming others.
The outcome? Less workplace harmony and productivity. It is essential that leaders understand the harmful impact engagement surveys can have by reinforcing self entitlement rather than staff collectively achieving the vision of a company’s desired cultural state.