The risks of playing favorites


You have a super employee; one who does everything right. You like his dedication and the work he produces is outstanding. Is it ok to reward and favor him in the workforce? The short answer is “No.”

While high-performing employees should be recognized and rewarded, playing favorites is not allowed. For example, if you give an employee extra money and gifts, look away when they arrive late or leave early, don’t discipline him for abuse of dress codes, all the while enforcing these transgressions by others, you may be risking more than upsetting other staff members. You may be crossing over the lines of what is legal and might be committing a form of discrimination.

How do you know if you are playing favorites? One key is consistency. If you engage in behavior with just one individual instead of all of your employees, it may be a signal you are overstepping. Here are some behaviors to practice:

• Don’t spend more time with one than others. Make yourself equally available to all.

• Identify praise-worthy performance in each employee. Standardize whether praise is shared publicly or privately (depending on the circumstances, of course).

• Instruct, coach and support individuals as needed, but don’t focus on one person, either positively or negatively. Make sure poor work is corrected, however, use it as a teaching opportunity.

• Give employees on a peer level equal opportunities to earn extras, such as a better office location, days off or gifts.

We all want our “super employee” to feel appreciated, but we caution how you approach the situation. JobFinders has more than 32 years in the staffing industry and we’ve seen it all. Our guidance is that it is okay to value an employee’s performance, but the company rules/rewards must be applied equally to all. The best case scenario is that all employees feel appreciated on the job.