What You Need to Do
First off, make a list of your employees from entry-level to management. Beside each name, be honest and write down what you’ve done for that employee lately in terms of favoritism—be truthful here. If you see a consistent pattern, it’s time for some change.
Stick to the Rules – Let your employee handbook and your HR policies and procedures be your guide. If they clearly state rules on favoritism when raises are achieved, stick to those rules. Also keep in mind the procedures for disciplining employees. Chances are your favorites need a warning now and again.
Keep Your Home Life Separate – You guide, work alongside and pay your employees but that doesn’t mean they need to be invited into your personal life—on any level. If Louie is the only employee allowed to be on your personal bowling league, how do you think that looks to other employees? If you invite Jill to dinner once a week because your spouse enjoys her company, rethink that as well.
Make Suggestions - If you have that special employee, sway them by making a suggestion to discuss work with a supervisor or co-worker and remind them you are in charge and busy.
Get Feedback – Often employee focus groups can help you determine if favoritism in the workplace exists on a scale you didn’t realize. Rely on HR management or an outsider to run the focus group with pertinent questions on how each employee feels about special treatment at work. Once you’ve gathered that data, it’s time to set a plan.
Devise a Standard – Again, you can rely on your HR team or use an outside resource; but you need to develop a plan so all employees, no matter what their level on the company ladder, are treated fairly. This applies to raises, incentive programs, promotions and other benefits your company offers.
For business owners, especially the small business owner, workplace double standards are more the norm than not. Avoid being a friend to your employees and patting only a few of the chosen on the back. You’re running a company, not a family reunion so remember to keep every employee on your staff happy, satisfied, and rewarded when deserved.