“But that’s not fair!” You thought you were done encountering this argument when you graduated from grade school, but alas, you’re not. When it comes to problems in the workplace, consistency is a key element of fairness. When your organization treats employees fairly, the organization experiences a wealth of benefits. Employers are less likely to be sued, will usually win when they are sued and have a happier and better-behaved workforce.
Keep from getting sued
“HR professionals don’t get companies sued. Managers get companies sued,” employment attorney Aaron Zandy told a crowd at the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition. Those words are as memorable and as true today as they were five years ago.
When HR professionals quip that their job is to keep the employer from getting sued, they’re only half-joking. Managers and HR professionals need to be in lockstep in managing employee performance. Managers should seek advice from HR professionals before taking disciplinary actions. This consultation helps managers exercise fair and consistent leadership through challenging circumstances. HR professionals know how other managers have handled similar issues and how to handle the situation at hand in a manner consistent with past organizational actions.
Good employers consider fairness to employees absolutely essential. Judges, plaintiffs, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agree. When an employee is terminated or receives other disciplinary action for poor performance, that employee is less likely to sue the employer if that employee perceives he or she was treated fairly. The employee may disagree with the decision, but that decision was made in fairness.
Win employment discrimination lawsuits
HR professionals know how to keep an organization consistent. They apply policies equitably across all personnel to ensure fairness. In cases when an employee or former employee sues an employer, documented and demonstrable fairness is often the difference between winning and losing.
Whatever arbiter is deciding the case, that independent third party wants to see an employer was fair to the employee within the specific circumstance and in relation to other similar circumstances the employer has handled. If an employer can show consistency, the organization is likely to win a lawsuit or unemployment claim.
Fairness leads to happiness
When employees are treated fairly, they feel valued and are therefore happier than employees who do not feel valued. It’s often said that employees leave managers rather than companies; however, managers and employers should both demonstrate fairness to retain a quality workforce. Inconsistent policy enforcement is a morale killer. No one wants to work for an unfair manager or employer. Unfairness creates an unpredictable work environment which unnecessarily increases employees’ stress levels.
Everyone plays by the rules
When employees know organizational rules apply to everyone equally, those employees are more likely to follow the rules. Consistent application of the rules is key to maintaining behavior that complies with organizational norms.
The Houston Chronicle puts it this way: “Consistency is an HR best practice mainstay – and for good reason. Any human resources professional should know the company’s policies and procedures and enforce them fairly across the board for all employees. If the HR office plays favorites or is appearing to play favorites, then employees are less likely to actually abide by the organization’s procedures. An employee who feels like others don’t have to play by the same rules is more likely to argue against having to stay compliant too.”
Fair and consistent treatment of employees breeds compliance which means fewer headaches for management and HR in the long run. Potentially problematic employees can focus their creativity on business problems and opportunities rather than on how to skirt the rules.