Human Resources

Why only 19% of Aussie employees say their workplace is fair?

Health Industry Hub | March 4, 2022 |
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Human Resources: 81% of Australian employees report that their working environment lacks fairness, according to a recent survey.

A high fairness environment is one where employees perceive that their manager and organisation treat them fairly. The survey of 3,500 employees* found that those who work in a fair environment perform at a level that is 26% higher than those who don’t and are 27% less likely to quit.

“Creating a balanced and shared employee experience will be the most important initiative for HR executives in 2022. To do this, organisations need to go beyond policies and develop philosophies,” said Neal Woolrich, Director HR Advisory at Gartner.

There are four factors that help employees feel fairness; being informed, feeling supported, feeling considered, and acknowledged.

The survey showed that only 37% of Australian organisations practice true information transparency. According to the research, most companies disseminate information unevenly regarding their workforce talent processes, including recruiting and compensation. This opens the door to back-channel conversations and distrust among employees.

Concern regarding the future of work, workload planning and opportunities for career progression should be clearly and consistently communicated. Transparency will lead to trust.

When employees feel supported at work, they are more likely to indicate that they work in a high fairness environment. Organisations have tried to support employees by investing in well-being programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite these investments, most employees still don’t feel like they’re getting the support they need.

The survey revealed that only 21% of qualified employees in Australia are considered for the next opportunity when it emerges at their organisation. Most organisations have created referral programs that give access to opportunities for qualified external candidates based on a current employee’s referral, but they have not done this for internal candidates. Instead, organisations typically rely on managers, who are asked to consider more qualified candidates, or employees, who are encouraged to take initiative to raise their profile and build their own brand.

Accurate employee evaluation and recognition boosts employee perceptions of fairness, however the survey found only 19% of Australian employees feel acknowledged for their contributions lower than the global average of 24%. 

Managers are typically called on to create this feeling of acknowledgement, but the research reveals that in a hybrid environment, managers tend to favour on-site employees over remote employees. Sixty-four (64%) of managers said that on-site employees are higher performers and 75% said that on-site employees are more likely to be promoted.

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The Way Forward

Progressive organisations are increasing their employees’ feelings of fairness by addressing the four factors above in the following ways:

  1. Increase the amount of information given to all employees and candidates and provide guidance on what actions they can take if they have concerns or questions.
  2. Expand support programs to all employees. Frame assistance as an effort to create a more successful organisation with a better work environment and employee experience for everyone; help employees understand why different people are getting different support.
  3. Use peer networks to provide more equitable access to opportunities between those outside the organisation and those within.
  4. Use technology to acknowledge the employees making the most important contributions. This includes ensuring employees are comfortable and consulted with the privacy implications of these technologies and, helping employees understand what behaviour changes will result in changes to their performance.

Organisations that employ strategies to address these four factors can create a significant shift in the number of employees who feel like they have a fair experience at work.

*Gartner survey Q3, 2021

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