How to Identify and Manage Workplace Favoritism

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Devayani Vyavaharkar
Student (University), India

How to Identify and Manage Workplace Favoritism

🔥NEW Have you ever wondered why a specific employee gets more promotion opportunities than others? Or perhaps you experienced one employee getting constant praise and appreciation while that was not deserved?
If yes, then chances are, you may have noticed some form of favoritism at work.

What is the Meaning of Favoritism? Definition

Favoritism refers to the additional opportunities and privileges granted by a superior to one employee or specific employees over others. These benefits are bestowed upon the 'favorite' employee(s) for reasons unrelated to their actual achievements, skills or performance. Of course, this is likely to result in disappointment among the other employees when they notice the favoritism. And this disappointment can increase even further if the other employees (i.e., the non-favorites) have to bear the burden.

What are the Major Signs of Favoritism At Work?

Some indicators of favoritism at the workplace include the following:
  1. The superior spends more time having work and non-work-related interactions with specific employees.
  2. One employee receives additional support, training and assistance while completing assignments.
  3. The superior expresses more praise and admiration for one employee than those who have accomplished tasks of similar complexity.
  4. Certain employees get undeserved promotions, frequent opportunities to lead important projects or additional incentives compared to their equals.
  5. During meetings, the suggestions made by certain employees are accepted rather than considering the recommendations by all members.
  6. Counterproductive actions of certain employees are ignored (e.g., frequent leaves or tardiness). In contrast, similar mistakes committed by others are reprimanded.
  7. Important work-related decisions and announcements are passed on only to specific employees.
  8. Certain employees are being favored while allocating work by either providing them with more manageable tasks or only desired, nice tasks.
  9. Specific employees are excessively supported in case of a dispute or disagreement with other employees.
Although there are benefits and opportunities for the favored employees, noticing favoritism at work is disturbing for the other employees (i.e., the non-favorites). It could well decrease their job motivation and satisfaction, and seriously hamper their productivity. It could also increase the turnover intentions of these employees.

Managing Workplace Favoritism

Recognizing above signs can help you and managers to use different tactics to deal with workplace favoritism. Here's a list of ways in which one can tackle favoritism at work:
  1. AVOID REACHING DIRECT CONCLUSIONS
    If you notice indicators of favoritism at work, try clarifying the situation. It will help gain insight into whether the superior favors the employee. it could be the special benefits are due to their extra efforts and performance.
  2. INTERPRET THE REASON BEHIND THE SPECIAL ATTENTION
    Examine all possibilities to understand why the employee is favored. Have they worked with the superior before? Were they close friends before working together? Did this employee aid your superior during difficult times? Does the employee have a specific qualification that aids decision-making for all? These answers could clarify the reason for favoritism.
  3. DO NOT HOLD GRUDGES AGAINST THE FAVORED EMPLOYEE
    Often, favored employees are not aware of special treatments unless they are made aware of them. Anyhow, it is not their fault they are getting special privileges from their superior. Hence it is advised to maintain a professional relation with them instead of getting frustrated.
  4. FOCUS ON YOUR JOB
    One way to combat favoritism is to act as if you haven't noticed it happening at all. This tactic will help you avoid over-reacting and concentrate more on your job. It can prevent you come across negatively to your superior. Remain patient and continue working hard. Your superior may begin to recognize your performance and achievements.
  5. TALK TO YOUR BOSS
    Directly accusing your superior of favoritism may easily backfire on you. Instead, you night ask about ways to develop oneself. So ask for opportunities and guidance from your superior to help boost your job performance. Having an open interaction with your boss could help resolve misunderstandings.
  6. DISCUSS WITH HR
    If you have tried talking to your superior a couple of times, yet nothing has changed, you may discuss this issue with HR. The HR department may encourage your superior to treat all employees fairly or place you in a different team. Note that doing this is not without risk for yourself.
I hope these tactics will prove helpful in dealing with the negative effects of favoritism experienced by the victims (the non-favorites) at work. These were just a few ways to combat workplace favoritism. I'm looking forward to any further effective ideas.

Sources:
Hageman, M. (2019, May 23). How to identify and combat favoritism at work. Inhersight.
Rodriguez, Y. (n.d.). 10 signs your boss is playing favorites. Jobs, Company Reviews, Career Advice and Community.
Smith, J. (2013, October 25). How to deal with favoritism at work. Forbes.

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