In a classroom discussion recently, the topic of fairness and equity came up. Managers talked about consistent application of policies for their employees. There seemed to be a belief that the law requires that everyone in the organization be governed by the exact same set of rules. Certainly it is prudent to be sure that employees receive equitable treatment when it comes to pay and promotion opportunities. But, practices around flex-time, attire, internet usage and travel can differ widely within an organization. It all depends upon the "needs of the business."
For instance, in some organizations, those who are customer-facing may have a more formal standard of attire than those who work away from the customer's view. Or, when businesses have particular opening and closing times, flextime may not be available for some employees. Perhaps some jobs will allow for online access while others do not. Safety enforcement may be more stringent in certain parts of the organization where hazards are greater.
These differences in how departments operate within a company can strike employees as being "unfair." Managers must make decisions that best support business requirements. How are employee expectations of fairness to be managed? Most participants agreed that early and frequent communication is the key. Employees need to know the reasons behind the rules so they can support them rather than fight against them. It was also noted that managers need to review policies from time to time to see if they still apply. Many rules are holdovers from years ago that no longer make sense.