A Georgetown University study found that 92% of business executives have seen favoritism at play in promotions, but favoritism isn’t exclusively displayed by who moves up the company ladder the fastest. Favoritism can come in the form of event invites, additional vacation or sick time, tardiness that goes unmentioned, or a variety of other extra benefits that aren’t included as part of a standard employment benefits package.
This kind of favoritism can send the wrong message to your other employees, impacting both office morale and productivity.
Rick Maher owns the consulting firm Effective HR and is a member of business advisory services, The Alternative Board. We asked him some of the more pressing questions about office favoritism and what his firm has found to be the best solution:
TAB: What does office favoritism typically look like?
Maher: Special treatment usually manifests itself in extra days off, being able to leave a little early and a “look the other way” when the person comes in a few minutes late. These are small things that can add up to big frustrations for all other employees. Dealing with them can be tricky at best - no one likes a tattletale.
TAB: How can a frustrated co-worker address the situation?
Maher: How do you highlight the favoritism properly? The answer is the employee handbook - it sets the rules for ALL employees and the employer. Its policies should be applied evenly and consistently to all employees.
TAB: Give us more details on what an employee handbook should contain.
Maher: We advise our employer clients to use the handbook in all discussion with employees that are asking for anything “extra.” This helps them avoid giving people special treatment. Conversely, employees that are not “feeling the love” can sit with their employer and talk about written company policies and how they should be applied evenly. If the rules are written, they are easy to follow. They are for all involved to know and follow, so use them professionally and to your advantage when you are not the “teacher’s pet.”
The employee handbook, then, needs to be very well thought out in order for its implementation to be succeessful. It should include your company’s policies on time off, benefits, pay, promotion and intra-office communication. Inc. has published a comprehensive guide to help you get started or rework your existing handbook.
Of course, this all assumes that you have the right people working for you to begin with. Do you? Hiring in the age of the Internet presents its own unique set of perks and challenges. Get some key pointers from our blog Business Tips from the Top: Recruiting Employees in the Digital Age.