Fairness is a thing. More of a thing than it used to be. A thing with the ability to upset elections and change voting patterns. Democracy has delivered a few well-deserved reminders of late that people really do care about fairness. Those people are voters and customers.
They are also employees.
The science of measuring of employee engagement and mood is well-established. And while it is straightforward to demonstrate the connection between engagement and enterprise value, it’s difficult to translate better measurements into building a better employee experience.
It often feels like we get tied up in theory and reporting and just over-complicate things. So here’s an overdue simplification:
Employees want to be treated fairly.
Science and common-sense agree that fairness is the foundation on which an outstanding employee experience is built:
- Fair recognition of alignment to values and contribution to results.
- Fair understanding of personal constraints and ambitions.
- Fair protection from physical harm, harassment, bias or bullying.
- Fair exposure to new challenges based on merit, performance and potential.
In managing customer experience, it has been shown that a brand earns the right to establish an emotional connection with a customer only when it has passed the threshold of “being easy to deal with”. It might be tempting to translate that approach into employee experience and focus on simplifying employees’ interactions. But in fact, the right to establish an emotional connection with employees comes from treating them fairly.
Fairness is a term that should be more widely used. The majority of employees want fair treatment, and managers naturally understand what the term means. If you want to shift culture it helps to use the right words.