The Duties and Responsibilities of an Employee

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Employees and employers have a symbiotic relationship. Employers pay wages and provide a safe workplace, while employees do their jobs and learn what they need to know to work safely and effectively. The duties and responsibilities of staff can be boiled down to the bare minimum that any employer reasonably and legally expects, but these employees' duties can also be broader and deeper, especially when an employer in turn takes the trouble to also provide more than is legally and practically necessary.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The duties and responsibilities of staff include representing their company professionally and with integrity and learning protocols for keeping themselves safe while executing their job responsibilities.

Complying With an Employee Role Definition

The responsibilities of a restaurant server will be different from those of a biotech researcher. Employee roles depend on the scope of the job as defined by the employer's manual and training and as they are explained when the employee accepts the position. It is the job responsibility of human resources personnel to provide all relevant information about the requirements of a position during a new employee's onboarding process. It is the employee's responsibility to listen and to read and absorb this information to prepare for employment with the company.

An employee's role may change over time as a company's products and processes evolve. Although these changes often happen under the radar, it is good form for managers and human resources personnel to proactively and explicitly redefine the employee's role and the new duties and responsibilities that come along with it. This clarity and communication gives employees the tools and information they need to step up and meet these evolving expectations.

Employee Safety Responsibilities

It is the employer's responsibility to provide a safe workplace, but it is the duty of each employee to listen and to read and understand the information provided about how to work safely and comply with company and federal safety requirements. Some of these safety requirements are based on rules and regulations coming from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which crafts safety rules that are industry specific as well as those that are applicable to all sectors.

Employers are responsible for posting relevant safety rules and responsibilities in the workplace, and employees are responsible for reading and complying. OSHA may require that employees working with hazardous chemicals wear safety goggles, and the employer is usually responsible for providing these goggles, but employees are responsible for wearing these goggles during each shift even if a manager isn't present to enforce the rule.

This compliance is in the best interest of employees, who minimize the risk of eye injuries, and employers, who lessen the odds of injuries that interfere with work flow, hurt employee morale and expose the business to potential fines and citations.

Moral and Professional Responsibilities

The actions of an employee reflect on that employee's company, so employees are responsible for behaving in ways that are beneficial to the companies that employ them and, at the very least, they should not do any unnecessary damage to their employer's reputation.

An employee who processes customer transactions will handle sensitive banking and credit card information and is responsible for only using this information to complete the specified transactions. Employees of a business that installs security systems may learn about customer vulnerabilities but are bound by duty to not exploit these weaknesses for personal gain.

Employees are also responsible for acting professionally, even when their managers are not watching their work closely. This professional behavior can include dressing appropriately, speaking civilly to customers and providing quality products and services. Acting and working professionally fulfills the employee's responsibilities to the employer and also helps the employer to bring in revenue to cover paychecks and keep the business afloat for future job security.

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About the Author

Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.

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