IAN FERGUSON: Steps for achieving workplace fairness


Ian Ferguson

Fairness and equity will be the defining issues for companies in both 2022 and years to come. The workplace environment has a great impact on employee productivity and their view of employers. Happiness at work is a metric that can be hard to measure, but is essential to the success of a company. Managers must use their control over policy to ensure fairness in the workplace so employees feel productive and happy.

Our column this week discusses what fairness in the workplace is, and why it is important, as well as tactics you can employ in your own workplace to demonstrate this.

Fairness in the workplace is the standard by which we determine the just treatment of employees in their specific assignments. Fair treatment of employees extends to the way management treats staff with respect and dignity. It also encompasses the relationships between peers in a workplace. In fair workplaces, managers treat professionals as equal to their peer groups with a similar skill set, regardless of demographic status or relationship to other members of the company.

Fairness in the workplace contributes to employees feeling safe and engaged in the work they produce. It creates a productive environment for employees, in which the company compensates them fairly and management rewards them according to their output. Fair workplace environments also ensure managers choose appropriate disciplinary action for employees when necessary.

Here are seven ways we can all contribute to a fair workplace:

1 Encourage mutual respect

No one is exempt from giving and receiving respect in the workplace. From the chief executive to the cleaners, we must all foster a spirit of respecting human dignity. Violators and workplace bullies should be reprimanded. When they are allowed to continue wreaking havoc, and intimidate others, the entire company suffers.

2 Model correct behaviour

Leaders must ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’. The policy and training around fairness in the workplace must translate into actions by the senior executive team. Every employee is watching the senior leaders, and the culture is established based on what they do.

3 Change rules to promote fairness

As employees point out gaps that might result in a faction or individual being unfairly treated, management must be courageous enough to change.

4 Communicate with your employees

We say it often. Communication is key. In creating a fair and equitable workplace, the frequency and spirit with which we communicate is critical. Empathetic, clear and direct communication to all staff helps to create a fair workplace. Unnecessary anxiety causes people (Bahamians especially) to start making things up.

5 Create transparent promotion procedures

Everyone wants to be promoted. Some are deserving and others simply feel entitled. If the workplace is going to be fair, clear standards must be communicated to everyone in the company and less exceptions should be made to bolster the credibility of those standards.

6 Commit to fair pay cheques

There is nothing more treasured to an employee than the payment he or she receives for their labour. Most people will espouse that they are underpaid. There is little noise made until they are grossly underpaid and not appreciated as a result of receiving a mediocre salary.

7 Offer an appeals process

When employees are disciplined for behaviour that is viewed as unacceptable, or actions that fall below the established standards, there must be an appeals process to hear the sentiments of that employee. I have found in my professional career that, often, these sessions reveal much truth about deficiencies in company processes, which usually result in the sub-standard performance or behaviour of the team member. Hear them out by creating a safe space. You may be surprised what you find out.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.


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