Why treat Employees Fairly?

We’ve seen that main way employer’s foster ethical behavior is by ensuring that they treat employees fairly. For most people the answer to why treat employees fairly Is obvious since mot learn, at an early age, some version of the golden rule.

But there are also concrete, reasons to treat employees fairly. Arbitrators and the courts will consider the fairness of the employer’s disciplinary procedures when reviewing disciplinary and discharge decisions. Fairness also relates to a wide range of positive employee outcomes. These include enhanced employee commitment, enhanced satisfaction with organizational citizenship behavior (the steps employees take to support their employer’s interests). Job applicants who felt they were treated unfairly expressed more desire to appeal the outcome. Those who view the firm’s testing programs as fair react more favorably to the selection procedure and view the company and the job as more attractive. Employees who view the firm’s drug testing program as unfair are less satisfied and committed.

Research Insight

A study provides an illustration. College instructors completed surveys regarding the extent to which they saw their colleges as treating them with procedural and distributive justice. Procedural justice questions included, for example, in general the department / college’s procedures allow for requests for clarification for additional information about a decision. Distributive justice questions included I am fairly rewarded considering the responsibilities I have The instructors also completed attitude surveys .These included questions such as I am proud to tell others that I am part of this department / college . Their students also completed surveys. These contained items such as the instructor put a lot effort into planning the content of this course. The instructor was sympathetic to my needs and the instructor treated me fairly.

The results were impressive Instructors who perceived high distributive and procedural justice reported being more committed to the college and to their jobs. Their students reported higher levels of instructor effort, pro-social behaviors, and fairness Overall … the results imply that fair treatment of employees has important organizational consequences.

Behaving Unfairly

Workplace unfairness is often subtle, but can be blatant, some supervisors are workplace bullies, yelling at or even threatening subordinates. The employer should, of course always prohibit such behavior. Many firms do have anti-harassment policies. (for example, at the Oregon Department of Transportation , It is the policy of the department that all employees, customers, contractors, and visitors t the work site are entitled to a positive respectful and productive work environment free from behavior actions, [and] language constituting workplace harassments ). Not surprisingly employees of abusive supervisors are more likely to quit their jobs, and to report lower job and life satisfaction and higher stress if they remain in those jobs. Mistreatment makes it more likely the employee will also show higher levels of work withdrawal in other words show up for work, but not d his or her best.

What causes unfair behavior?

Some of the things that motivate managers to be fair may (or may not) be surprising. For one thing, the saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease seems to be true. One study investigated the extent to which assertiveness on the subordinate’s part influenced the fairness with which the person’s supervisor treated him or her. Supervisors treated pushier employees more fairly; Individuals who communicated assertively were more likely to be treated fairly by the decision maker. Supervisors exposed to procedural injustice in turn exhibit abusive behavior against subordinates who they see as vulnerable or provocative. Studies also suggest that large organization have to work particularly hard to set up procedures that make the workplace seem fair to employees. Hopefully, however, fair treatment stems more from the quality of the supervisors the company hires and from their training and from the human resources policies and practices the company puts in place.