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Favoritism in the Workplace: What You Should Know

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Favoritism builds tension within an organization.

When it starts creeping into your work ethic, it causes resentment in the workplace and affects the overall success of the company.

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about favoritism in the workplace and how you can prevent it.

What Is Favoritism in the Workplace?

Usually, favoritism occurs when an employee and an employer share a personal bond or friendship.

As a result, the favored employee receives few to no repercussions at all for his tardiness and inability to meet deadlines.

In addition, he’s more likely to receive promotions and projects, which others are more qualified for.

What Are Some Examples of Favoritism?

Favoritism can occur in large and small organizations.

Here are some examples of workplace favoritism:

1. Informal Conversations Between Certain Employees and Boss

Having an informal conversation with the boss is one of the great examples of favoritism in the workplace.

It usually indicates a personal bond between the manager and the employee, which others will find unfair.

2. Open Door Policy Only For Some Employees

If the boss applies the one-door policy only for certain employees, it’s taking away others’ rights to voice out their feedback and concerns within the organization.

3. Gives Assignments to Selected Few Employees

One of the major examples of favoritism in the workplace is giving assignments to selected employees.

Managers give more projects to recently hired members because they favor them.

This gives little opportunity for advancement to those who worked for the company for several years.

4. Gives Help Only to Certain Employees

If a manager only helps certain employees, this will encourage tension with other staff.

Even worse, two managers.

While leaders can help their favorite employees reach their full potential, this can also translate to special treatment.

5. Only Considers Suggestions from Some Employees

When the boss prefers to listen to the more outspoken employees, the ‘silent workers’ will feel left out and unnoticed.

Over time, unheard staff loses motivation to voice out their ideas.

This leads to a lack of participation during work collaborations.

6. Sides with Favorite Employees During Conflicts

Conflicts are unavoidable in workplaces.

Hence, when the boss sides with a favorite employee without even hearing both sides of the staff members, this won’t resolve the issue.

In fact, it’ll only proliferate the conflict between employees.

How Bad Is Favoritism in the Workplace?

Favoritism can negatively impact your workplace. Here’s why:

  • Is Favoritism in the Workplace Illegal? Although favoritism in the workplace isn’t illegal, it can occur for unlawful purposes.
  • Is Favoritism in the Workplace Unethical? Fairness in the workplace creates a healthy environment for the staff and makes them feel engaged in their roles in the company. Since favoritism interferes with fair treatment, it’s considered unethical.
  • Is Favoritism in the Workplace a Form of Discrimination? If the manager doesn’t favor an employee because of his race, gender, age, and sexual orientation, favoritism becomes discrimination.

In fact, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforced laws that prohibit any form of discrimination within the place of employment.

Hence, if you’re being pushed out of your job, consider talking to an attorney.

How Does Favoritism Affect the Workplace?

Favoritism carries a profound effect on any group of people. Here’s how favoritism affects the workplace:

1. Higher Turnover Rates

Studies show that a company’s turnover rate is tied to its employees’ job fulfillment and satisfaction within the organization.

Underappreciated workers tend to lose interest in their roles.

If employees are experiencing workplace favoritism, they’re more likely to leave the company.

2. The Choice of Who Gets the Promotion

Employees that have years of service and earned valuable experiences on the job get passed over for well-deserved promotions.

3. Resentment

It’s only natural that other employees will resent colleagues who constantly get special treatment from management.

In this case, some workers will develop distrust with each other and always be on the lookout for a clear indication of being sabotaged.

4. Toxic Work Culture

Favoritism results in toxic workplaces.

It can ignite distrust and resentment among colleagues.

This heightens the stress level in the organization, especially for those staff who are sensitive to tension in the workplace.

5. Divides Employees

Workplace favoritism divides employees because it can damage communication lines and make it hard for employees to cooperate and trust each other.

6. Lowers Motivation and Self-Esteem

While favoritism boosts the confidence of favorite employees, it causes inferiority and inadequacy to those who aren’t receiving the same amount of appreciation and consideration.

What’s more, studies show that low self-esteem in workers hinders company productivity.

7. Affects Employee Mental Health

Partiality can also affect the employees’ mental health.

Over time, stress and anxiety can lead to depression.

It’s also worth noting that poor mental health affects the business.

8. Decreases Job Performance

Once employees don’t feel motivated to work, their job performance declines, which then affects the company’s profitability.

How to Prevent Favoritism in the Workplace

Favoritism hampers team morale and overall productivity. Luckily, you can prevent it by following these tips:

  • Disclose Former Relationships: Probably the most effective way to prevent favoritism is by dismissing former relationships with colleagues. For instance, any bad blood between co-workers should be put aside to avoid prejudice and maintain a fair working environment.
  • Be Aware of It: Acknowledging the possibility of favoritism inside the workplace can help managers re-evaluate their decisions when imposing rules, distributing assignments, and providing well-deserved promotions.
  • Define the Rules: Lay out the rules to the employees. As fair employers, impose work ethics without exceptions.
  • Discourage Friendships: Keep it professional. This way, it’ll be easy to avoid partiality within the company.
  • Establish a Performance Review System: As an employer, you should review all your employees’ performances. Give recognition to those who go the extra mile to get the job done.
  • Encourage Meetings: Meetings can help the management monitor the worker’s performance. This will give the workers plenty of opportunities to voice out their indignation regarding their assignments.
  • Call It Out: The quickest way to prevent favoritism is by calling it out. This way, the management can resolve the issue right away before the conflict escalates.

How Do You Prove Favoritism at Work?

If you’re suspecting your leaders playing favorites, here’s how you can prove workplace favoritism:

  • Notice Signs: Take a closer look at the signs. Pay attention to extra privileges, undeserved promotions, and whose ideas are always up for consideration.
  • Write Down Instances as They Occur: If favoritism happens on more than one occasion, you should write it down as it happens.
  • Collect Paperwork: Take the time to collect the paperwork and review them, including the performance details of someone whom you suspect your boss favors the most. This can help you evaluate if it’s actually favoritism.

How to Deal with Favoritism in the Workplace

Although employee favoritism happens in all walks of life, you deal with it by following these guides:

  • Have an Open Conversation: Communication between senior managers and workers creates a more transparent working environment. It allows the employees to voice out feelings of indignation regarding assignments.
  • Set Expectations: Setting expectations creates clarity between the management and its staff. As a manager, you need to let your employees know what you expect from them. At the same time, find out their expectations of you.
  • Reward Systems: When it comes to a job well done, employers should give recognition to a deserving employee. For example, organize a recognition program per week to applaud and reward great work.
  • Give Employees Opportunity to Talk to Upper Management: All employees should be allowed to reach out to other upper management. Doing so eliminates partiality within the organization.

Wrapping Up

Favoritism in the workplace has negative effects on the employee’s self-worth and mental health.

It divides employees and creates tension, which makes it harder to achieve overall success.

Eventually, it leads to a toxic or hostile work environment.

If you have questions about the topic, leave a comment.

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