Workplace experts tell us that 80 percent of employees do not want to manage people, make decisions, be accountable for results, or own businesses. Further, while most employees insist they want to grow and develop to get to the next level, they expect someone else (usually an employer) to provide the path and the means to do so.

Moreover, it seems that today’s employees are risk averse, but not rewards averse. Most—especially those from generations Y, Z, and the Millennia—have not learned that success (reward) comes from risk-taking and failure. They only know success from their relevance—they have never had to pick themselves up from the ashes and apply lessons learned.

In fact, many from these generations have never even had to address the consequences of failure in their personal lives. Someone has always been there to replace a broken toy, argue with a teacher over a grade, or yell at a little league coach about playing time.

During a recent job interview I conducted for a client, I was very surprised that the candidate’s parents were present. My reaction? I asked who was applying for the position. (Guess who answered.)

A major challenge facing today’s workplace is that many employees seem clueless about what success means for their companies. They do not seem to understand what it takes to own, run, sustain, or build a business.

Frustrated employers wonder, “Why don’t they have the same stake in the business as me? Company success guarantees their future, too, doesn’t it?” and “When do employees start giving as much to my business as they’re taking?”

This used to be the norm: a company was profitable, made 401K contributions, distributed bonuses, and raised salaries. In return, employees expressed thanks and generally worked the hours necessary to ensure continued success and that they had a job to return to on Monday. Today, most employees want to work 8 hours a day and expect bonuses when they work more.

Surprisingly though, the top reason people leave jobs today is not for more money. They leave because of how well they are treated and whether they feel respected, their opinions heard. It’s all about them, their relevance, and not company success.

As painful as it may seem, a new business norm is here. The number of workers with “me” attitudes exceeds the number with “us” perspectives.

What can employers do? Stop asking what happened and why!

Hire those people who share your company priorities and values. Make the cultural fit the do or die test for employment, not a candidate’s skills and experience. Remember, you can always teach people how to do a job, but you cannot teach people workplace values (such as customer service, integrity or work ethic).

Here are some steps to consider for your business:

  1. Identify your company’s top three to five business priorities/values.
  2. Identify current staff that are (or can get) aligned with these priorities. These are employees who go above and beyond—those you think about when you want something done right on time and on budget. Develop these selected individuals in leadership.
  3. Ask other employees to name their top five priorities. Accept that there will be individuals whose priorities/values do not align with yours. Determine their contribution to date and determine future as your employee.
  4. Stop waiting and paying for potential that may never materialize. Recognize that you may need to move some employees out who have great skills and potential but don’t share your priorities. Toxic attitudes with great skills/experience can poison the waters and sabotage your plans.
  5. Know there is talent out there that share your priorities/values and is looking for a stake in the game. It’s up to you to go find them. The choice is yours.

Stuart Friedman is president of Progressive Management Associates. He guides organizations through cultural shifts, getting people aligned to strategic outcomes. Reach Stuart via email: