Before I started university, I worked at a fast-food restaurant for a number of years. During this time, I was stunned at some of the unfairness that the workers were experiencing. I really wanted to understand what managers and organizations could do to enhance fairness in their workplaces and ensure that their workers felt valued and appreciated. I was also interested in what employees could do by themselves to recover from some of these negative experiences since it often seemed like they were left on their own to deal with unfairness.
When I started university, I was very lucky to take a class with Daniel Skarlicki – an internationally renowned fairness researcher – who opened my eyes to the possibilities of studying fairness. I was extremely fortunate to have his mentorship starting in my undergraduate degree and he remains a strong influence today. It is my hope that by studying these issues and mentoring other students that I can make positive changes in the world and pass along this knowledge to others who can do the same.
In our research, we found that there are a variety of reasons for why managers may not treat people fairly. They may not realize that they are being unfair or they may even think that being unfair can be motivating. We are developing interventions to help train managers on the importance of fairness and to recognize when they may be acting unfairly despite their best intentions. We are also developing interventions to help employees recover from these negative experiences.
Laurie Barclay is area coordinator for Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management.
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