Employee fairness should be something we expect

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey

I thought about this quote today after hearing two stories regarding employee relations – more specifically on the subject of fairness.

In my mind, here are the facts:

  1. Life has never been, nor will it ever be truly “fair”.
  2. In any line of work, there will always be those who work harder than most, and others who do a great job pretending they do.

It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to conclude the two points I mention above. The only research that’s needed is employment, because sadly every organization has yet to realize that treating employees fairly is a sign of good management.

Management and leadership expert, F. John Reh, once said, When asked, a group of almost 2200 people reported fairness as the most important trait of a boss they would want to work for. When you treat your employees fairly they spend less time worrying about who else is getting an unfair share.”

What does it say to a hard-working, dedicated employee, who works more hours then they’re compensated for, to see employees who are able to “bend the rules” consistently while everyone else is held accountable?

How do you expect your employees to have respect for their peers, let alone their leaders, when such blatant biases exist in the organization?

When you have a spare moment, look through your employee handbook and you’ll quickly discover how many employees are not required to adhere to the company-wide policies and procedures that were created for a reason – to be fair to everyone.

I’ve accepted that “life” is not fair. But why should we have to accept the same fate at the places we work – the places we spend much of our viable lives day in and day out?

Leaders are there to set an example, and if the example you’re setting is that favoritism trumps the employee handbook, then don’t assume your best employees will stick around forever. Samuel Johnson once remarked, “Nothing can be truly great which is not right.”

If we go back to the quote by Covey at the top of this post, if treating employees unfairly is a part of your business culture, how are you treating your customers?