Busy managers treat employees less fairly, new research shows
- When managers are overworked, they're less likely to treat employees fairly, research published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) revealed. According to the research paper, when managers are handling myriad responsibilities under pressure and tight deadlines, fairness becomes low on their priority list. Three studies support this theory, HBR said, suggesting that employers can persuade bosses to balance work pressures with fairness by rewarding managers who behave fairly.
- Research shows that employees who feel they're treated fairly perform better, says HBR, adding that fairness is a complex set of behaviors and decisions that can make it difficult to attain. Fairness requires making sure decisions are applied consistently to all employees based on truthful information, suppressing bias in decision-making, and allowing employees to express concerns.
- An Academy of Management Journal study shows that many workers complain about managers being “too busy” to meet with them, hear their concerns, or keep them updated on decisions. Managers, on the other hand, say they acted insensitively toward employees because they were “overloaded” or short on time.
As the managers of human capital management, HR can work with bosses to ensure that they're never too busy or over-worked to forget about fairness. Unfair treatment can lead to employees feeling overworked and underappreciated, quickly causing turnover — which employers can't afford in this tight talent market.
Unfairness generally means some employees are treated justly, while others are not. Managers may not even be aware they are doing this, which is why experts suggest managerial training as a key way to protect both employees and the company in the long-term from any situations that could be exacerbated with poor management, including potential bias situations.
Much of employee engagement relies on managers, as they now are seen as both coaches and mentors that drive most of an employee's development. To make sure managers can actually perform that aspect of their job, HR has a responsibility to establish a culture that lets managers prioritize employee face time whenever possible, rather than bog managers down in day-to-day tasks.
- Harvard Business Review Research: When Managers Are Overworked, They Treat Employees Less Fairly