Employee Entitlement: It’s More Than Just a Generational Issue

Editor’s NoteReaders sometimes ask about past TLNT articles, so every Friday we republish a Classic TLNT post.

If you are a person who enjoys peace and serenity, you don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, nor do you whisper “bomb” when going through airport security.

And unless you want to incite a riot, you’d better not let the word “entitled” slip out around a business owner, manager, or employer.

Regardless of how Webster’s defines it, in the minds of many adults the “e” word evokes the painful confrontations they’ve experienced with kids/students/employees who have been dealt with fairly, but have acted out as if they have been mistreated and are deserving of more.

The challenge dealing with entitlement

This instantly causes the parent/teacher/boss to flash back to when they were young and recall how appreciative they were for getting much less.

And boy, isn’t it a kick-in-the-gut when you give your employee more than you ever remember getting back in the day and your efforts are not only grossly unappreciated, but the recipient has the gall to hold out their hand and ask for more?

It’s important to note that entitlement issues aren’t exclusive to Millennials or any certain demographic, they’re just more pronounced. It isn’t any less annoying to deal with a mature individual who thinks their age gives them a legal right to special treatment and unmerited favor.

Here’s how to push through the anxiety and connect with those displaying employee entitlement attitudes and behaviors:

1. Confront it

Don’t deny, minimize, or stuff your feelings of being unappreciated. It can suck your energy and drain your spirit when you are fair and square with someone, or worse, you go to great lengths for them, only to have that individual act as if you own them more.

You don’t have to be a combative, angry, or aggressive jerk, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your back and allow an attitude of entitlement to fester and grow.

2. Manage Expectations

The biggest reason people act entitled is that they think they actually are entitled to more than they’re getting.

Article Continues Below

The quickest way to resolve that is ask them what they want/expect, and then clarify for them what they must do to get that. This is best accomplished with a face-to-face meeting that provides both parties with an opportunity to express feelings, goals and objectives, and benchmarks.

3. Demonstrate appreciation

When an employee meets or exceeds your expectations, respond as you’d like them to respond when you meet or exceed their expectations.

Call attention to the specific action or behavior, and then offer up genuine thanks and gratitude. Although this may be second nature to you, something that was engrained in your childhood, it may likely be a brand new concept to them. “Hmmm, you mean I’m supposed to be happy that I get to work here?”

And while we’re talking about entitlement in the workplace, this video is one that is certain to elicit an emotional response.

On Point

Take the initiative to eradicate entitlement in your workplace. With entitlement being pandemic, it won’t be easy, but it’s certainly a worthy pursuit.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s blog Chester on Point

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement, and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the millennial mindset, and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 4 leadership books including his newly released Amazon #1 Bestseller On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out.  Learn more at EricChester.com and follow him at @eric_chester

Topics