Most of us have experienced some form of favoritism. Maybe it was a teacher that had shown favouritism to another student. They’d let them go first in line, they always knew what was going on, and they enjoyed all of the perks of being a favorite. If you weren’t the favorite, do you remember how that made you feel? The chances are high that it didn’t make you feel positive about yourself or the person showing preferences.
Now, as an adult, workplace favouritism can feel even worse as it decreases morale and productivity. That’s why it’s so important for employers to understand why treating employees fairly, consistently across their workforce, is crucial for individual and overall company success.
When all employees experience the same amount of respect from leaders, stronger, more meaningful relationships have space to grow in the future. Without genuine and trusting professional relationships, you risk creating a negative employer brand. Current employees look for new and better opportunities while potential candidates hear negative reviews. Of course, employees’ management styles differ. However, there are components of a manager that should be the same across the board. Treating your employees fairly is one.
Before you shift your focus onto fair treatment, it’s important to understand how it differs from equality. This is where many managers get hung up and sacrifice healthy relationships. They think if anyone in a similar role has the same salary, no matter what, the playing field is level.
This is a natural assumption to make, but you must remember that every employee is unique. Almost all employees have subtle but important nuances in their work ethics, styles, skill sets, responsibilities, and goals. Two employees might have the same role, but the way they get the job done is likely very different.
If one works extremely hard at getting all of her tasks accomplished and goes above and beyond, while the other simply works to meet the quota, should they be treated exactly the same?
If you believe they should, you might be surprised when one starts to build resentment and anger for the lack of recognition for all of their hard work. In fact, there’s a good chance they stop working as hard because she receives the same acknowledgment and compensation as the other employee, who only puts in half as much effort. As a result, they feel you’re not treating them with the amount of respect they deserve.
Fairness means a leader treats everyone appropriately and individually, based on circumstances and contribution. You need to exercise sound judgment regarding your employees. There are several ways you can do this as a leader to ensure you’re creating a fair environment for your employees.
For starters, explain your expectations clearly to all employees. What kind of performance or results will be deemed excellent? What kind of rewards can employees who exhibit this outstanding performance expect? Make sure each employee has the chance to reach these personal and organizational goals on their own terms.
Your employees also need to feel valued beyond members of your team. It’s essential you meet their unique working situations with understanding and respect. If one of them is going through a tough time or situation, then their performance will likely waiver as a result. Knowing these circumstances is a direct result of having a solid and trusting relationship with your employees. Of course, all while keeping it professional.
Lastly, holding yourself accountable is another way to ensure your employees are being fairly treated. Changing your mind or your attitude on a day-to-day basis will do nothing to foster trust with your employees.
Of course, equality, diversity, and inclusion should remain a critical focus as you also move toward treating employees more fairly. Both equality and fair treatment lead to happier, more engaged, and productive employees who are proud to vouch for your company.
About Great Place to Work®
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