What is an Employee? Definition, Duties, Skills, Types, Importance, and FAQs

What is an Employee?

An employee is an individual who is hired by an employer to perform specific tasks in exchange for regular payment. They have a formal employment contract that outlines their rights, responsibilities, and working conditions.

Unlike independent contractors, employees have a closer relationship with the employer and are subject to their control and direction. Employers have the authority to determine how employees are compensated, when they work, and how they carry out their tasks.

In return for their work, employees receive benefits such as overtime pay, vacation leave, health insurance, and other perks.

Essentially, an employee is a person who works for an organization under the terms of an employment agreement, receiving financial compensation and various benefits in return.

What Does An Employee Do?

Roles and duties of an employee: when employees are hired by the employers they are entitled to some required activities. The followings include the most common duties every employee performs during their tenure in the organization.

However, it is important to note that employees’ specific duties may be different based on the nature of their jobs, industry, and organizational culture. In addition, the employee’s most common duties include the followings.

Perform Assigned Work

Employees are responsible for executing the tasks and duties outlined in their job description. They are expected to complete their work with diligence and meet established deadlines.

Use Provided Tools and Equipment

Employers are typically required to provide employees with the necessary tools, equipment, and resources needed to perform their job effectively. Employees should utilize these resources responsibly and maintain them as required.

Follow Instructions

Employees are expected to follow the instructions and guidelines provided by their employer. This includes adhering to company policies, procedures, and work-related regulations, as long as they are lawful.

Maintain Safety

Employees have a duty to prioritize safety in the workplace. They should follow safety protocols, use protective equipment when necessary, and report any hazards or incidents promptly to ensure a safe working environment for themselves and others.

Demonstrate Care and Consideration

Employees should approach their responsibilities with care, consideration, and professionalism. They should strive for quality in their work, pay attention to details, and exhibit a positive attitude towards colleagues, customers, and the organization as a whole.

Meet Performance Goals

Depending on their role, employees may have specific performance goals or targets to achieve. Whether it’s meeting sales quotas, achieving production targets, or delivering projects within set parameters, employees should work towards meeting these objectives.

Seek Continuous Improvement

Employees should actively seek opportunities for professional growth and development. This may involve participating in training programs, acquiring new skills, or staying updated with industry trends to enhance their performance and contribute to the organization’s progress.

Practice Loyalty and Honesty

Employees are expected to be loyal to their employer, protect confidential information, and act in the best interests of the organization. They should demonstrate integrity, honesty, and ethical behavior in their interactions with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders.

Also Read: What is a Manager? Definition, Levels, Roles, Duties, and Required Skills

Skills Required For Employees

Employees are crucial assets for organizations. Their contributions are what led the organizations to achieve their desired goals and targets. The followings are some of the skills, you as an employee should consider.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial in the workplace. Employees should possess strong verbal and written communication skills to convey ideas, information, and instructions clearly to colleagues, clients, and stakeholders.

It involves active listening, expressing thoughts coherently, and adapting communication styles to different situations.

Teamwork and Collaboration

The ability to work well in a team is vital for employees. They should be able to collaborate with colleagues, share knowledge, contribute ideas, and resolve conflicts constructively.

Teamwork involves being reliable, and supportive, and fostering a positive working environment that promotes cooperation and the achievement of common goals.

Adaptability and Flexibility

In today’s rapidly changing work landscape, employees need to be adaptable and flexible. This skill enables them to embrace new technologies, processes, and work environments.

They should be open to learning, willing to take on new challenges, and capable of adjusting their approach to meet evolving business needs.

Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

Employees should possess strong problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. This involves analyzing situations, identifying challenges, and developing effective solutions.

Employees who can think creatively, evaluate options, and make informed decisions contribute to innovation, efficiency, and continuous improvement in the workplace.

Time Management

Time management skills are essential for employees to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and maintain productivity. Employees should be able to plan and organize their work effectively, set realistic goals, and manage their time efficiently. This skill ensures that they can balance multiple responsibilities and deliver results in a timely manner.

Continuous Learner

Last but not least, in today’s rapidly changing work landscape, employees need to be continuous learners. Since everything is changing unexpectedly, employees must learn new things to do work effectively and be up to date with the new working trends, practices, and technologies.

Types of Employee

The followings are some of the common types of employees you can find in the workplace. Depending upon needs, employers can hire any of the following employee types. They include:

Full-time Employees

Full-time employees work a standard number of hours each week, typically 35-40 hours, and have a long-term commitment to the organization. They are regular employees and often receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans.

Examples include a software engineer working 40 hours a week for a tech company or a store manager in a retail store.

Part-time Employees

Part-time employees work fewer hours than full-time employees, typically less than 35 hours per week. They may have flexible schedules and are paid on an hourly basis. Part-time employees contribute to the workforce by handling specific shifts or providing additional support as needed.

For example, a college student working 20 hours a week as a cashier or a retiree working 25 hours a week as a customer service representative.

Seasonal or Temporary Employees

Seasonal or temporary employees are hired to meet short-term staffing needs, usually during busy seasons or specific projects. They work for a limited duration and are released once the demand subsides. Examples include retail workers hired for the holiday season or construction workers employed for a specific project.


Interns are individuals, often students or recent graduates, who engage in temporary work experience to gain practical knowledge and skills in a specific field. They may be paid or unpaid and work under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Internships provide an opportunity to learn and apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting. Examples include a college student interning at a marketing agency or a recent graduate interning at a law firm.

Exempt Employees

Exempt employees are typically salaried and are exempt from certain labor laws, such as overtime pay eligibility. They often hold managerial, executive, or professional roles and have greater flexibility in their work hours. Examples include a marketing director overseeing a team or a human resources manager responsible for strategic decision-making.

Non-Exempt Employees

Non-exempt employees are generally paid on an hourly basis and are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond the standard workweek.

They have specific rights under labor laws and regulations. Examples include a receptionist working 40 hours a week and receiving overtime pay for any additional hours worked or a factory worker paid an hourly wage.

Importance of Employees in the Workplace

Employees are the most valuable element of an organization. Their contributions are what make the dreams of organizations come true. Some of the employee’s importance in the organization’s success can be pointed out below:

  1. Expertise and Skills: Employees bring valuable expertise and skills to enhance productivity and innovation.
  2. Productivity and Output: Employees drive productivity, leading to increased efficiency and success.
  3. Collaboration and Teamwork: Effective collaboration among employees fosters creativity and efficient teamwork.
  4. Customer Satisfaction: Employees who provide excellent service contribute to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  5. Employee Engagement and Retention: Engaged employees reduce turnover and contribute to a stable and motivated workforce.
  6. Adaptability and Resilience: Adaptable employees navigate change and contribute to organizational resilience.
  7. Organizational Culture and Values: Employees shape the culture, promoting a positive and inclusive work environment.
  8. Continuous Improvement: Employee involvement drives innovation and operational excellence.

Employee Vs. Employer

An employee is a hired worker who performs specific tasks for an employer, following instructions and receiving compensation. Their role is to contribute their skills and efforts to support the employer’s business goals. Important skills for employees include job-specific expertise, communication, teamwork, and adaptability.

On the other hand, an employer is an individual or organization that hires employees and assumes the financial risk of the venture. Their role is to oversee the business, make strategic decisions, provide resources, and ensure compliance with employment laws. Key skills for employers include leadership, financial management, decision-making, and the ability to create a positive work environment.

Employee Vs. Contractor

An employee is a worker hired by an employer to perform specific tasks, follow their instructions, and receive compensation. They play a key role in the employer’s business and require skills such as job expertise, communication, and teamwork.

On the other hand, a contractor is a self-employed individual who provides services to a company based on their own terms. They have more independence, determine their own behavior, and are responsible for their finances. Contractors need skills like self-management, adaptability, and entrepreneurship.

In summary, employees are hired by employers, have a controlled role, and require job-specific skills. Contractors are self-employed, have more freedom, and need skills for self-management and entrepreneurship.

Employees: FAQs

Let’s look at some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about employees.

What is an Employee?

An employee is an individual who is hired by an employer and gets paid for his contribution.

What is an Employer?

An employer is a person or organization that hires workers to perform specific tasks, manages the business, and assumes financial responsibility.

What is a Contractor?

A contractor is a self-employed individual who offers their services to a company on their own terms, working independently and responsible for their own finances.

What are the Roles and Duties of Employees?

The roles and duties of employees include: Perform Assigned Work, Use Provided Tools & Equipment, Follow Instructions, Maintain Safety, Demonstrate Care & Consideration, Meet Performance Goals, Seek Continuous Improvement, and, Practice Loyalty & Honesty.

What are the Skills of a Good Employee?

Skills of a good employee include the following: Communication Skills, Teamwork & Collaboration, Adaptability & Flexibility, Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking, Time Management, and Continuous Learner.

What are the Types of Employees?

The most common types of employees in the workplace include the following: Full-time Employees, Part-time Employees, Seasonal or Temporary Employees, Interns, Exempt Employees, and Non-Exempt Employees.

What is an Exempt Employee?

An exempt employee is a salaried worker who is exempt from certain labor laws, such as overtime pay eligibility. They typically hold managerial or professional roles and have more flexibility in their work hours.

What is a Non-Exempt Employee?

A non-exempt employee is an hourly worker who is eligible for overtime pay. They are subject to labor laws and regulations regarding working hours and compensation.

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