FAVORITISM AT WORK: Knowing The Signs & How To Fix Them

favoritism at work
image source: Employsure

Favoritism can have a significant negative impact on a workplace’s morale and productivity, leading to resentment and a lack of drive in other workers. Although there may be cases where the employee in question is unarguably invaluable to the organization and, as a result, gets promoted or any other incentives that come with it. In this case, it is not favoritism because it could be anyone as long as they are working hard and being productive. However, in the case of favoritism, the employee gets a promotion and other benefits regardless of his contribution to the organization, whereas the ones working get left behind.

Now, imagine the damage this could cause to the organization’s growth—when you’re done imagining, quickly dive into this piece to read about the negative impact of favoritism/ discrimination at work and how to complain about it and deal with the signs. Let’s go!

Favoritism at Work

It is normal for people to favor or like someone more than others since it is essential to human nature. As a result, there ought to be an infinite number of variables that affect how much we like someone or value their abilities.

In spite of their best intentions and efforts, people often choose their favorites at work, and favoritism is still very much a thing. This can be demonstrated by some employers in the form of subtle indicators or, sporadically, in quite obvious ways.

Extreme favoritism in behavior can also progress to a point where it causes unneeded confrontational situations that are problematic for the employees and their teams. It also has a negative impact on work quality and team morale. Additionally, there is a possibility that this special employee won’t receive the crucial team support and cooperation as a result of the special treatment. As a result, everyone’s productivity is in jeopardy.

Why Favoritism at Work Can be Detrimental

Favoritism at work can have detrimental and destructive implications if someone recognizes it. Your company may suffer from a variety of factors, including:

  1. When staff members believe that their contributions and labor have little value to the organization or its managers, low morale can result.
  2. Employees may stop caring about their jobs and become disengaged. In certain instances, they might even make an effort to harm the person they think is the target of favoritism.
  3. The preferred worker could start to feel undesired or uneasy at work, particularly if they become aware that they aren’t the best at what they do. Due to jealousy or suspicion, they could also start to feel like an outcast or that their coworkers are treating them poorly.
  4. If there is obvious evidence of partiality at work owing to loss of morale or a poor work ethic from employees, your employee turnover rate may be higher.

People who feel ignored or that their efforts go unappreciated may leave the company or retain anger toward it. As a business owner, you risk losing excellent employees as a result of workplace favoritism. In order to effectively oppose bias, you must be able to identify its telltale signals.

A hazardous workplace spreads quickly. When morale is poor, you may find that more workers are reporting absenteeism or that they are becoming less concerned with the quality of their work. Favoritism can’t be allowed to negatively impact your company, which is why it’s critical to spot the warning signals and put a stop to them as soon as possible.

Discrimination or Favoritism at Work?

If taken at face value, favoritism at work is not illegal. Favoritism, though, can also be a cover for other illegal forms of discrimination at work. Also, at work, favoritism can occasionally cross the line into illegal territory if it is useful as a justification for harassment or discrimination.

Favoritism As A Discriminatory Practice At Work

the Fair Work Act of 2009, protects workers against discrimination and Favoritism through: 

  • Age is one personal feature that is exempt from discrimination.
  • Racial or ethnic background, skin tone, or immigration status
  • Political stance or religion.
  • Gender identity, sexual orientation, or both.
  • Spouse’s identity
  • Breastfeeding or being pregnant
  • Familial or professional obligations
  • A physical or mental handicap

State legislation may incorporate additional features and provide additional protection for workers against discrimination. Playing “favorites” based on the aforementioned traits can expose your company to possible Adverse Action lawsuits.

Is Workplace Favoritism Officially Illegal?

Although technically not against the law, partiality is something that should be avoided. Favoritism on the basis of social and familial ties or personality traits is fair, but it’s not the best method to promote a healthy work environment for everyone. The fact that someone receives preferential treatment because of traits such as gender, age, or race is unlawful

Is Discrimination the Same as Favoritism at Work?

At work, favoritism is never a nice thing, but discrimination is something else entirely. Knowing and comprehending employment discrimination legislation is crucial for being able to distinguish between the two. It’s probable that discrimination is occurring if it’s obvious that one individual benefits more than another because of their gender, age, race, or sexual preference. A boss giving promotions to members of the same race or religion and never to those who don’t have such origins or beliefs would be an excellent illustration of discrimination.

Negative Effects of Favoritism and Discrimination on Work

Favoritism has a number of negative repercussions in the workplace. The following are some possible drawbacks of favoritism and discrimination:

#1. An Increase in Resentment

Even if your coworker hasn’t done anything wrong, you could grow angry towards your manager and your coworker if you witness your manager showing favoritism towards one of your employees. Try speaking with a representative of your HR department if you start to feel resentful or angry as a result of favoritism.

#2. Losing Confidence in the Company’s Leadership

You could lose respect for someone in a leadership position as a result of favoritism and discrimination at work. If they overtly favor one worker over the others, they become less likely to follow their instructions.

#3. Decreased Productivity and Motivation

It is upsetting when your dedication to the firm and work ethic consistently go unappreciated while your colleague is praised or given special treatment for what you see as less labor. As a result of favoritism and discrimination at work, you could find it difficult to concentrate and lose interest in doing your job. Try to recall the motivations that led you to pursue the current position. If you enjoy the work you do, you might be able to motivate yourself.

#4. Higher Rates of Employee Turnover

Because employees believe their work isn’t valued or that they won’t be able to grow in the firm, favoritism and discrimination at work may result in greater turnover rates. Before making the decision to leave your firm because of favoritism, think about meeting with your manager to discuss your issues.

#5. Inability to Progress Within the Organization

When a manager has a preference for one worker, they could be more inclined to give them special projects or promotions that help them develop their skill sets and land more senior jobs. You can lose out on possibilities to advance yourself as a result of this. Ask your manager about career growth prospects if you worry that you’re being passed up for opportunities. To demonstrate your credentials, you might need to take the initiative.

How to Deal with Favoritism at Work

To preserve a positive workplace culture, it is imperative to understand how to stop and counteract bias. There are further steps you can take to deal with favoritism at work, in addition to having your Human Resources department assist with the creation of a code of conduct:

7 Actions Employees Can Take to Deal with Favoritism at Work.

Below are the actions employees can take in their various jobs to deal with favoritism at work in order not to complain further:

#1. Reasonably Evaluate the Condition

Take the necessary time to do a sober assessment of the issue before acting. Consider the precise circumstances where you feel you were the victim of favoritism. Think about all the reasons another employee would have experienced the treatment they did. Did they possess a skill, relationship, or technical competence that could have affected your leader’s actions or choices? Once you have evaluated the scenario, you will be more certain of what measures you want to take to deal with this favoritism at work.

#2. Contact a Mentor

Consultation with a mentor who is not involved in the problem can be quite helpful in thinking about how to deal with favoritism at work. They should hear your logical analysis of the circumstances and your suggested course of action. They might completely concur with your analysis, sort of concur, or outright disagree. No matter what they say, make an effort to remain receptive to any helpful criticism they may have. You could just need the perspective an unbiased person can offer to deal with the partiality you are now experiencing.

#3. Advocate for Yourself.

If you have completed the first two steps, you have exercised due diligence and are prepared to move forward with your action plan on how to deal with favoritism at work, which may involve advocating for yourself. If you do, be sure to speak clearly, back up your claims with any examples or facts you may have, and, most importantly, keep your convictions strong.

#4. Give Your Coworkers Credit

If your manager is showing partiality toward you, you can ensure that your coworkers feel appreciated by thanking them in company meetings for their assistance in completing a task. Another route to how to deal with favoritism at work is if your manager compliments you on something you didn’t do, you may choose to correct them.

#5. Give Your Teammates Project Suggestions

Receiving a new assignment that calls for more expertise and responsibility may seem thrilling, but if you observe that your coworkers are frequently passed over for new projects, you might be able to leverage your position to assist them to earn the credit they deserve. This could demonstrate to your boss that your coworkers are capable of handling the same projects, and it could also ease any stress you might be experiencing with your team.

#6. Inquire About Additional Advantages

To determine their logic, ask your manager why you are getting particular benefits if you want to deal with favoritism at work. You might be able to persuade them that in order to maintain a positive work atmosphere, everyone in your department has to enjoy the same advantages.

#7. Continue to Treat Others Professionally

When there is favoritism, it could be simple to get along with your management and have more intimate conversations with them at work. By politely declining an invitation to a performance or to attend a conference with them, you can lessen the possibility of showing partiality. Instead, make it about the company and possibilities for team-building by involving the rest of your coworkers.

5 Actions Employers Can Take to Deal With Favoritism at Work.

When employees sense even the slightest act of favoritism on the part of the employer, they tend to complain, which eventually leads to dissatisfaction at work. To avoid this, it is necessary for employers to do the following:

#1. Recognize Your Unaware Favoritism at Work

If you really want to eliminate any acts or behaviors that are encouraging you to play favorites, even unknowingly, this is not an easy or simple undertaking, but it is crucial. Fortunately, using internet resources is a great place to start.

#2. Look for the Help of a Leadership Coach

On the other hand, the assistance of a leadership coach may be extremely helpful if you want to address your unconscious prejudices or increase your knowledge of how others may perceive your behavior. A coach will work with you for a specified amount of time, using their education, credentials, and practical experience, to challenge your viewpoints, offer feedback on particular scenarios, and serve as a sounding board when you run into difficulties. All of this is very beneficial in this kind of circumstance.

#3. Include the Subject in Onboarding Conversations.

Make careful to bring up partiality during the employee onboarding process if you work in HR, especially for individuals moving into leadership positions. This enables new workers to distinguish between praise for a strong work ethic and the appearance of partiality. It also demonstrates to new managers the significance of treating all of their workers fairly.

#4. Introduce a Research on Workplace Culture

Develop an anonymous poll with your HR department to determine the extent of partiality that workers see or feel at work. This could help you validate or refute your suspicions of favoritism, and if others share your concerns, it might even spur change within your department.

#5. Cultivate Honest Communication

Discussing your feelings with your manager can help you two develop an open line of communication. This is vital regardless of whether you feel that they are favoring you excessively or ignoring you since it provides them the chance to retract their actions, provide an explanation, or change their management approach to be more inclusive.

Even though you don’t have to constantly compliment and recognize each of your staff members, doing so can go a long way toward fostering a productive and happy workplace. When working on large projects, make an effort to involve as many people as you can and keep an open mind when hearing ideas and criticism. Encourage higher management and staff to communicate more. Ensuring that everyone feels included and appreciated can be accomplished in large part by soliciting feedback from your staff and paying attention to their worries.

You have a lot greater chances of stopping favoritism in its tracks if you can spot it before it gets out of hand. Make sure that all of your managers are aware of how to apply a certain set of criteria when conducting employee evaluations, making recommendations for promotions, or raising salaries. Keep in touch with your staff and ask them how they feel about the workplace. If someone expresses concern, pay close attention to what they have to say, and then take immediate action if you suspect partiality.

Next to read is how to complain about favoritism at work.

How to Complain About Favoritism at Work

Everywhere individuals work together, there is a risk of favoritism, but small business owners have a unique issue because their teams are tiny, tight-knit, and frequently made up of friends of the boss. Introduce objective evaluation techniques and procedures early on to prevent any form of complain of favoritism at work. The following are ways one could actually complain about favoritism at work:

#1. Taking Clear Standards

To avoid complain regarding favoritism at work, choose objective criteria for promotions and raises. It’s important if you don’t already have a system in place. For instance, you might base annual increase amounts on the results of performance assessments.

#2. Tell Your Staff What Standards You Employ. 

You don’t have to go into specifics when you complain about favoritism at each performance at work; you should just explain your decision-making process and stress that everyone is subject to the same rules. Employees who are unaware of your personnel management and remuneration practices are more inclined to spread rumors of favoritism.

#3. Examine Previous Choices Using Your Impartial Framework. 

Don’t enter into denial mode if you find that employee charges of favoritism to be true. Apologize, own your shortcomings, and then concentrate on how you can make everything fair for everyone. Do so, even if it necessitates raising some incomes while decreasing others. Individual meetings should be held with those who would be impacted by the change as well as those who initially voiced their complaints.

#4. Reward Strategy

Review your incentive and reward program to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to be rewarded. If a top sales performer on your team receives a bonus for making the most sales during the previous quarter, your marketing staff ought to receive something similar. For instance, you may start awarding a bonus to the worker who demonstrates the most initiative, as determined by your marketing team.

#5. Accommodating Complains of Favoritism at Work

If an employee has a complaint regarding favoritism at work, let them know that you are open to hearing their concerns. It’s best to publicly discuss concerns rather than let rumors feed employee resentment. Justify your choices if they were really unbiased, but make an effort when making your complaint about favoritism at work to see things from an unhappy employee’s point of view. Request ideas on how to improve equity at your place of employment.

#6. Give Staff Regular Feedback. 

Although annual performance reviews are crucial, they are insufficiently frequent to explain why one person is receiving additional praise in the middle of the year. Conduct smaller reviews once every month. Focus on outlining your skills, limitations, and the steps you’ll take to improve your own performance.

Done with how to complain about favoritism at work, let us now go over the signs through which you can know favoritism at work.

Signs of Favoritism at Work

It’s important to learn how to recognize the warning signs of a supervisor playing favoritism at work early on. There may be a problem if you’ve experienced any of the following signs of favoritism with your own supervisor at work.

#1. A Member of the Family

Think about the situation where you work for a company and you are passed over for a promotion in favor of another worker who also happens to be the boss’s son. No matter who was the superior candidate, nepotism will immediately raise suspicions in everyone’s minds. This can be one of the signs of favoritism at work, but don’t just assume that someone is a favorite at work because they are related.

#2. Reigning Monarchy

One of the most obvious signs that favoritism may be at work is this: Others take note when an employee’s performance is not closely monitored or when they never receive feedback; it almost seems as though they are being treated more as peers than as subordinates. Speaking inappropriately or being permitted to work unsupervised while everyone else faces the third degree is one of the signs of favoritism at work.

#3. The Stands to Benefit

Although it’s not one of the major signs, this is a show of favoritism at work. Someone may not be right if they consistently receive workplace benefits or rewards like tickets or discounts. If the boss has gifts to distribute, the entire work should be notified by email rather than through individual requests to a small group of people. Additionally, it doesn’t seem right if only a few people are invited to personal gatherings when no one else is. Hence, it could be one of those signs of favoritism you can identify within your workplace.

#4. The Reliable Advice

It may be one of the signs of favoritism if you observe at work that a boss is especially receptive to the thoughts and proposals of a certain employee, especially if the suggestions are poor. There is nothing improper about this, but if the manager solely wants their thoughts, then other workers should raise their concerns.

#5. When There is a Crisis, They Turn to You First.

If you are consistently the first person your boss thinks of for getting things done fast or handling a crisis with ease, your supervisor has a great degree of faith in your talents.

#6. You Attend Meetings More Often.

This indicates that your supervisor greatly respects your wisdom and judgment and is aware of your potential to contribute positively. When your supervisor prefers your presence over that of your coworkers since they enjoy spending time with people they get along with, then it’s one of the signs of favoritism at work.

#7. Your Opinion is More Demanded

Managers frequently consult the thoughts of employees they trust. If your supervisor frequently solicits your opinion during team meetings and projects, this may be a telltale sign that you’re the favorite.

#8. Requesting and Getting A Project.

It can be obvious that you are the boss’s favorite if you frequently feel as though you are getting the best opportunities and can’t seem to pass them up, with new projects constantly flowing towards you. Employers that believe their staff members have talent frequently give them more important project responsibilities

#9. Your Boss is More Understanding of You and Encourages You to Run for Office.

The ability to be more honest with them is a crucial indicator that you are your boss’s favorite employee. They appreciate your perspective, thus they are much more receptive to hearing constructive criticism from you. You may also notice that your supervisor is more understanding, forgiving, and accommodating toward you, which makes you feel more comfortable taking calculated chances at work.

#10. Invitation to Personal Social Events and Outstation Trips.

Your boss is eager to go on vacation with you and gather experience together. This demonstrates a deep respect for you and dedication to your professional growth. If you are the boss’s favorite, you might also observe that you are receiving frequent invitations to the boss’s family gatherings.

Can Favoritism Get You Fired?

The use of favoritism in the workplace may be illegal depending on the specifics of the employment agreement. If an employee’s contract states that he or she can be fired solely for cause, and a supervisor instead hires a friend of the supervisor’s, the employer may be in breach of contract.

How Do You Ignore Unfairness at Work?

But just because we recognize that life is unfair doesn’t mean we take it in stride, especially when it comes to our professional advancement.

  • You need to back away from the hasty conclusions you’ve drawn.
  • Maintain your moral superiority.
  • Find The Remaining Good, Fair, And Right.
  • Let the One(s) Responsible Be Forgiven.

What Causes Favoritism at Work?

Favoritism or nepotism.

The manager’s personal familiarity with an employee is the most typical root of partiality in the workplace. This could be due to a preexisting relationship or familiarity with one another outside of the workplace, or it could be the result of a genuine and lasting friendship that began at work.

Can You Report Your Boss for Favoritism?

You may have a claim for discrimination if your employer treats you differently because of your gender, race, national origin, age, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, or any other trait protected by federal or state law.

What Is Favoritism in the Workplace Called?

Favoritism is also known as nepotism. Regardless of whether or not employers are doing this on purpose, it produces a hostile work environment.

What Are Examples of Favoritism?

One of the most obvious indications that favoritism may be at work is this. Others take note when an employee’s performance is not as closely monitored or when they never receive feedback; it almost seems as though they are being treated more as peers than as subordinates. Speaking inappropriately or being permitted to work unsupervised while everyone else faces the third degree are examples of this.

Is Favoritism a Form of Discrimination?

Favoritism is never a nice thing, but discrimination is something else entirely. Knowing and comprehending employment discrimination legislation is crucial for being able to distinguish between the two.

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