Insurance · 12 May 2016

How unfairness could be making your employees ill

Perceptions of fairness can be created through strong communications. Image: Clarital
Workers? perceptions about how fairly they are treated in the workplace have a significant impact on employee health and wellbeing, according to new research by academics at the University of East Anglia’s (UAE) Norwich Business School.

The study which looked at how almost 6, 000 Swedish workers felt about justice at work revealed that those who thought the processes used to determine rewards, pay, promotions and workload were fair tended to identify as healthier.

Cary Cooper, president of the Charted Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD), said “If an organisation does not make it clear why someone gets a promotion and why someone gets more pay than another person doing the same job, that is procedural injustice and it is one of the factors that can create stress, which leads to either mental or physical ill health.

He suggested that employers who want to minimise perceptions of unfairness focus on good communications, arguing: “It is about being transparent about what it will take to get promoted, to get more money, to be allowed flexible working when you apply for it. The more transparent a business is, the more likely it is to minimise the procedural injustice issues.”

Additional research published by Dirk Lindebaum, an academic at the University of Liverpool, in December 2015 found that moral anger? negative outbursts motivated by a desire to make the world fairer or correct wrongdoing can be a force for good in the workplace by creating an impetus for improvement.

allowing morally-motivated anger to be expressed can serve as a tool of organisational diagnosis to better our individual and collective behaviours, said Lindebaum.

organisational efforts to eliminate expression of anger, including whistle-blowing and other forms of appropriate, morally-justifiable emotional expression at work, can in truth conceal unethical and unjust practices that put individuals, organisations or the environment at risk.



Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.