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How Much Does Fairness Really Matter?

In my last post, “Three Ways to Enhance Workplace Fairness,” I reviewed the three types of organizational fairness: distributive justice, procedural justice, and interactional justice. By enhancing these, a firm can gain a competitive advantage through people--but how exactly? What does focusing on fairness really do?

Organizational justice has been a hot topic in academic research for almost 30 years, and the culmination of all that research sends a pretty clear message: Fairness matters! Some of the positive outcomes an organization can expect by emphasizing justice are:

  • better work performance

  • more organizational citizenship behaviors (those tasks outside of the job description, like staying late and helping coworkers, that really enhance organizational performance)

  • increased trust between employees and managers

  • higher job satisfaction

  • improved organizational commitment

  • reduced counterproductive work behaviors (things like breaking organizational rules, time theft, etc)

  • reduced absenteeism

  • reduced turnover

There's even some evidence that employees' perceptions of distributive justice at work can influence their physical health! In looking at this list, it seems clear that enhancing organizational fairness can create a competitive advantage through your people.

If your organization wants to determine how fairly its practices and procedures seem to employees, a good place to start is with an employee attitude survey. A well-designed anonymous survey can tell you a lot about where your firm stands in terms of employee fairness.

Want to learn more or take a sample survey? Check out our Survey Design and Analysis service or email me at


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