Finding Fairness in Your Employment Experience

Dec 12, 2019

A Google search for “what employees value most” turns up around 333 million results. It’s been asked, analyzed, and talked about a lot in the past few years as employee engagement has become a hot topic in human resources. Employers know that employee engagement is important because happy employees means happy customers. But what impact does this engagement trend have on employees?

Often, employee engagement evangelists recommend special events like corporate parties and group outings. Sometimes they suggest developing programs like wellness initiatives. These are great ways to boost morale, establish a culture of fun, and encourage more meaningful relationships in the workplace. What they don’t do is address the most basic need of employees: fairness.

Last year, Clutch released a study on what employees value most in their jobs. They found that fair pay and fair treatment were the most important qualities employees want. Much more so than attributes like having high ethical standards, staying profitable, and making the world a better place. That said, the tides may be turning (at least a little bit): research has shown that Millennials and Gen Z value social responsibility as much as a competitive salary. Most people’s fairness determination will come from one source: competitive pay. Workers want compensation to be fair internally, as compared to others at the company, and externally, according to their experience, gender, and location. They also expect all employees to be treated equally with regard to benefits, paid leave, and holidays. Any indication of favoritism can damage a company’s reputation.

So how can you make sure you’re finding a fair company to work for? These tips can help set you on the right track.

  • Make sure you see a full job description during your time applying and interviewing for a position. A formal description will set the factors to determine a fair salary.
  • Compare the offered compensation against a reputable source. A salary comparison site like com should show average pay for specific positions in specific geographic areas. Your offered compensation typically should fall within the range shown. Note: Be careful to compare your actual job duties and not just job titles. Titles can vary widely from company to company.
  • If not included in your offer letter, ask about regular performance reviews. Most companies provide a pay increase in conjunction with goals that show how you have excelled in your position.
  • Ask about bonuses—whether they are awarded and what metrics are used to award them to specific employees. A merit-based system is the fairest. Beware signs of arbitrary distribution, which could mean that only the favorites are rewarded.
  • Remember that it’s not all about monetary compensation. Consider benefits offerings, company culture and perks, and paid leave/holidays when evaluating fairness. Some smaller companies or nonprofit organizations may not be able to offer much financially but can balance by providing generous leave and flexible work arrangements.
Written by: Sarah Perlman

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