Managing fairly, ... Managing equally?


Employees expect to be treated fairly by their managers. But many fail to recognize the distinction between fair and equal treatment.

What kind of circumstances can make employees feel like they are not being treated fairly?

  • Some employees are granted flexible schedules where others are not

  • Smokers seem to take longer breaks than everyone else

  • Employees in one department can take vacations whenever they’d like, but employees in a different department must take vacation during fixed weeks.

  • Employees with differing responsibilities and job requirements may work at home or work different hours than others.

  • Employees who excel enjoy more pay, increased benefits, and other privileges.

What can managers do to ensure they treat employees fairly?

Managers must follow particular guidelines if they hope to convince employees that everyone is being treated fairly. For starters, managers must promote flexibility. Rigid rules only serve as a roadblock to fair treatment. Rules fail to address every circumstance and are subject to interpretation. They’re there to be broken.

  • Use flexibility over rigidity

  • Treat employees as adults

  • Communicate managerial philosophy

  • Be consistent

Flexible managers take individual circumstances into consideration. They use policy as a guideline and tailor solutions to respect each individual’s need to strike a work / life balance.

Fair and equal treatment are not the same things, and managers must take pains to ensure their employees understand the distinction.


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