How to Treat Employees Fairly in the Workplace

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While it's true that labor and employment laws represent the foundation of human resource practices for treating employees fairly, there is much more to achieving your company's goal of fair treatment in the workplace. Fair employment practices include actions a company takes to ensure it complies with federal and state fair employment laws and regulations. Underlying factors that support fair treatment in the workplace include mutual respect, strong interpersonal relationships and honest communication.

Establish a foundation for a mutually respectful employer-employee relationship by communicating with employees in a candid and honest manner. Employers who fail to communicate with employees on a regular and consistent basis experience high turnover rates, low employee morale and employee job satisfaction issues. When employers treat employees with respect, it means communicating job expectations as well as acknowledging the contributions employees make to the company's success. Address misunderstandings without becoming defensive or combative -- doing otherwise creates tension and the same type of defensive and combative behavior from employees.

Develop productive interpersonal relationships with employees within each level of the organization. Refrain from minimizing the importance of front-line workers whose performance help you meet customers' demands for products and services. Too many organizations devalue the contributions of lesser-paid employees in favor of upper management.

Train supervisors and managers to build strong leadership skills. Supervisors and managers who demonstrate these skills provide continuous feedback to employees, give them recognition for workplace achievements and regular performance reviews in a manner that shows they have an interest in employee development. Provide regular training for current supervisors and managers and development opportunities for employees who exhibit leadership capabilities. Whenever possible, use your recruitment and selection process to promote from within to create employee loyalty and satisfaction.

Practice honest communication in all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Communication is an essential element in your company's performance management system, as well as keeping employees aware of organizational changes and workplace policies. Encourage employee feedback by conducting employee opinion surveys. Take the time to analyze employee opinion survey results accurately and follow through with action plans to resolve issues that come to light as a result of responses.

Verify your employment practices and decisions are consistent with federal, state and local employment laws. Become an expert in labor and employment laws that prohibit discrimination and unequal treatment so you are capable of making the right hiring decisions. Review your compensation and benefits structure. You should also correct wage and benefit disparities that can lead to discrimination claims and employee complaints. Provide training to human resources staff, and to departmental supervisors and managers to ensure all workplace policies and performance standards are fairly and equitably applied to each member of your work force.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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