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How to Make Employees Feel They Are Being Treated Fairly

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Employees who feel they’re being treated unfairly in the workplace tend to have low morale, reduced productivity and poor job satisfaction. On the other hand, staffers who feel they are treated well by their managers are often motivated to achieve at higher levels. They have a greater sense of team spirit and overall job satisfaction. As a manager, it's important that you take steps to ensure all employees are treated fairly.

Don't Play Favorites

Do everything you can to avoid the perception of playing favorites in the workplace. Even if you have personal, friendly relationships with some of your staffers outside the office, keep those relationships separate from what happens at work. For example, avoid inside jokes, talking about after-hours plans or otherwise coming across as overly chummy. Being excessively friendly can give the perception of favoritism even when none exists.

Establish Criteria

Establish specific criteria for how you select people for special projects, team initiatives and high-profile work opportunities. For example, if you send the same people to major conferences all the time, or only give plum assignments to a select few regardless of their performance levels, it creates a sense of unfairness. However, if you distribute criteria for how these decisions are made, staffers are more likely to believe there's a level playing field. Rather than arbitrarily select which employees will go to national conferences every year, establish a system where you send one representative from each department on a rotating basis.

Equalize Measurements

Use the same performance measurement criteria when evaluating your staffers and conduct reviews at the same time for everyone. For example, you might conduct performance evaluations the first month of each year for everyone, or conduct them on the anniversary of each employee's hire date. If raises or cost-of-living pay increases are distributed, establish a specific percentage that applies to each position and make that figure part of the permanent job description. If you give year-end performance bonuses, develop protocol for how bonus amounts are decided and implement them consistently. If two salespeople brought in the same amount of business during the year, for example, they should be given the same bonus.

Open Door Policy

Let staffers know they’re welcome to come to you with questions, concerns or comments at any time. If employees feel only a handful of people have your ear, it can create a sense of inequality. Listen to staffers in the same way, hold them all to the same performance and behavior standards, and issue praise and discipline accordingly. Pay attention to feedback and comments making the rounds in your office. If staffers feel they’re being treated unfairly, you'll probably get wind of it and can take proactive steps to alleviate the problem.


About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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