Employees care ferociously about fairness. If a workplace hires more of one ethnicity than another, the unfavoured tribes will feel slighted. If men get promoted more often, the women in an office will harbour disdain for the firm. If former pupils from the same secondary as the boss receive higher salaries than other workers, then emotions of inequality will abound.
Unlike canines who survive as pack animals with regimented accepted hierarchies, humans by nature favour equitable distribution of resources and both dislike as well as notice unfairness. Unfortunately, what we as a species prefer in fairness, we do not always find in our employment relationships.
Many organisations promulgate and accept glaring injustices that tinge our internal natural desire for fairness. In continuing the Business Talk series on organisational justice, this week we delve into the distributive side of firm-level fairness.
As researchers Russell Cropanzano, David Bowen, and Stephen Gilliland delineate, distributive justice encompasses the appropriateness of outcomes. Outcomes fall into three different categories of equity, equality, and need. Rewarding staff based on their specific contributions involves equity fairness. Providing each worker with roughly the same compensation entails equality fairness. Providing benefits based on an employee’s personal requirements comprises need fairness.