It’s not like you can go around and collect data from every employee to determine how they are feeling all the time. Multiple factors affect happiness, causing it to fluctuate a lot. And those factors often have nothing to do with the actual work.
Having said that, it is still easy to feel the overall mood among employees. If the morale within an organization is low, it will continue to spread.
Working in an unfair environment is one of the primary reasons behind employees becoming disgruntled. It takes a single person to voice out their dissatisfaction in a closed circle, and if these concerns are justified, coworkers will follow suit.
Plenty of organizations struggle with a fair work environment. This is particularly true for larger companies that have multiple departments that are big enough to have their own unwritten rules.
Smaller companies have it easier because there are fewer problems to worry about. Not to mention that working in a smaller team gives more room for camaraderie and genuine questions, nurturing a fair environment.
Having said all that, unfairness at work can affect everyone regardless of who they work for. It is up to employers to create a fair work environment.
The process can be long and arduous, especially if previous company policies were lackluster and ignored or encouraged negativity.
Nevertheless, even if you have a big task ahead of you, it should be a priority to ensure long-term gains and build a thriving and profitable venture.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important ways to create a fair work environment.
1. Provide Training Opportunities
Some people are content with their current position and would not imagine doing something. On the contrary, you also find those who are driven by opportunities to improve their current skill set and learn new things.
Training includes various team-building activities, inviting as many employees as possible. However, not everyone might be inclined to join, and there is no need to force them.
As far as individual training programs go, they should cater to what employees ask for (so long as the demands are realistic).
Note, though, that if one employee gets an opportunity to improve themselves, such a thing should be available to everyone else.
There are exceptions, such as exclusive training programs that accept only a limited number of people. But as long as these restrictions are not in place, a company must have a policy that opens training opportunities for everyone who wishes to participate.
2. Have Transparent Promotions
Transparent promotions are also worth a shout. Moving up the corporate ladder is another example of what is driving employees to try their best.
Usually, the expectation is that someone from within the organization goes up. Imagine someone working their socks off to chase a promotion only for the upper-ups to hire some outsider.
Such instances sound the opposite of fair. Exceptions exist, but if a company establishes clear structures and policies for promotions, they should stick to them.
If employees are uncertain about what the procedures are like and whether they can realistically achieve their goals, something is missing within the organization.
To eliminate limitations and introduce clarity, follow these rules of thumb:
- Create promotion eligibility guidelines and keep them updated
- Identify and supervise those who are in charge of giving promotions
- Deal with employees who leave their positions for new promotees
While vertical promotions that include a new position require the most attention, organizations should not forget about the importance of dry promotions.
Dry promotions are not frequent, but they occur. It’s when somebody remains in the same position and receives additional duties.
Dumping extra work on somebody should at least come with an increase in salary to compensate for the additional workload. Otherwise, employees feel like they are treated unfairly.
3. Punish Bad Behavior
As hard as it is to admit for some, a fair few companies have a poor culture that encourages employees to take advantage of their position.
Corruption and other criminal activities take place, but the higher-ups tend to ignore them or cannot identify the problem. Monitoring tools and other means to deal with shady employees are a must. Trusting your workers is encouraged, but at the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is diligent and earnest in their work. If they become aware of what is going on behind the scenes, finding the motivation to continue becomes a challenge.
Bad behavior by certain employees is detrimental to the overall work environment. Punishments should be implemented, and, in some cases, there should be no going back.
If the situation calls for it, a company should fire the employee. Ignoring the problem will only encourage more shady behavior, which, in turn, discourages good employees.
4. Commit to Competitive Salaries and Other Benefits
When one thinks about fairness in work, salaries often are the first thing that comes to mind. Naturally, different people work different jobs, and they make salaries based on their duties, experience, and so on.
The unfairness comes when there are notable discrepancies between two employees who have similar experiences and positions.
The gender pay gap is also a sore pain point. The situation is getting better, but according to the Pew Research Center, in 2022, women, on average, earned 82% of what men earned. And keep in mind that this is the United States, a modern country. Other parts of the world struggle with this issue much more.
Finally, some CEOs and other higher-ups choose to take the lion’s share of the profits, and working for someone like that hardly seems fair.
Of course, one’s salary is not the only aspect of the benefit package. Health insurance, vacation days, and perks like gym memberships or various employee discounts also add to the benefits. And as long as they are fair for everyone, there should be no disgruntledness.
5. Encourage Open-Door Policies and Communication
Open communication channels between regular employees and supervisors are an indication of a good company.
A healthy and fair work environment goes hand in hand with open-door policies. Employees feel much more valued when they know that they can go up and discuss various concerns with their managers.
In fact, supervisors should encourage feedback from employees. Exchanging information brings more than just creating a fair work environment. It becomes easier to identify and react to problems if these problems are not ignored.
Generally, the higher-ups get to decide, but involving and hearing from employees creates a much fairer system, especially if decisions affect everyone.
6. Create Comfortable Work Space
Struggling to see what’s written on a document or shivering from cold because there is not enough heat hardly sounds like a fair environment to work in, right?
Ensuring a comfortable workspace is one of the priorities. Sure, companies look to save money by cutting down on basic necessities, but doing so is bound to bite them back. Risking the wrath of everyone working in an office just to save some money is hardly worth it.
Individual problems can affect employees as well. Take technology, for example. Less tech-savvy people might struggle with problems like their MacBook not detecting external hard drive location or encountering random screen flickers, preventing them from working.
An IT team or a dedicated support person should be on standby, ready to come in and help. And if multiple people are facing similar problems, there should be no “playing favorites” by ignoring someone completely.
Establishing and maintaining a fair work environment is a long process for organizations that neglect to invest the necessary resources.
At the same time, companies that treat their employees fairly should not become complacent. Negligence can snowball out of control.
Policy updates, communication within an organization, fair benefits, and other elements that go into making a fair work environment require constant attention.