Use Workforce Management to Demonstrate Fair Workplace Policies

by | Nov 15, 2014

Use Workforce Management to Demonstrate Fair Workplace Policies

Our brains are hardwired to seek fairness. According to a recent Norwegian study, the striatum—that part of the brain that gets physiologically activated by stimuli we associate with reward—doesn’t just light up when it senses a tangible benefit coming our way. It’s also stimulated by fairness: the perception that we’re being treated the same as our peers.

For employers, the study brings to mind something you probably know already: that employees care just as much—if not more so—about whether an employer practices fair workplace policies as they do about earning their paycheck.

But what’s hard for employers is that so much interaction with employees feels subjective. Indeed, that’s because many aspects of managing your workforce are subjective in nature, leaving you and your organization vulnerable to attrition, scrutiny, and even legal action.

That’s why employers should make every effort to be fair and equitable regarding employee interactions and transactions. And where you can document that equity with data that is accurate, transparent, and visible … even better!

Why data matters

To employees, perception is reality. If something looks or sounds unfair, that perception—whether it’s accurate or not—begins to color every interaction. To minimize that risk and protect your organization from diminishing brand equity, and even litigation, rely on your workforce management data to demonstrate objectivity. Let’s look at a few specific examples:

Pay rates

Rules that are not automated often leave too much room for interpretation. For example, if an employee earns a premium for filling in for a supervisor, do they earn that rate for the entire day, or only when they are performing the supervisor’s specific duties? Without established standards, employees may begin to question whether they are being treated with fairness—even in instances when they are actually being overpaid because of variables in how certain rules are applied. Automating pay rules and calculations across your entire workforce adds protection against this type of scrutiny and artificially inflated labor costs.


The potential to earn more money makes overtime highly desirable to employees. But employers need to be fair in how overtime is offered. A robust workforce solution will allow you to track when overtime is offered and rejected, a practice that is especially important for unions with overtime equalization rules. In fact, in many cases, the employee’s response to the offer is secondary; what matters more is meeting contractual obligations—and demonstrating equity—so that you can prove that overtime was offered in the agreed-upon manner.


Earning vacation is usually straightforward and objective. But taking paid time off (PTO) may not be. Many organizations would benefit from clear, transparent, and fair ways to submit and approve PTO requests, since you can’t have an entire department or shift crew taking vacation at the same time. A workforce management solution that includes 100% of your workforce allows managers to grant PTO in a more systematic manner, taking seniority and previous time-off requests—or any other factors you value—into account, especially during highly desirable vacation weeks.

Leaves of absence

Employee leaves tend to be one of the most sensitive aspects of people management. An employee leave request—such as an extended absence to care for a sick family member—may be covered under multiple laws and policies with overlapping rights. Managers who are not familiar with those laws may grant requests in a subjective way, which opens the door to perceptions of preferential treatment and can seed discontent among employees. Using a solution like WorkForce Absence Compliance Tracker removes subjectivity from the leave determination process by relying on a series of branching questions to help the case manager identify eligibility. Making leave case management part of your overarching workforce management solution allows you to apply concrete, transparent policies to guide decisions while also increasing employee confidence with clear, sequential self-service tools for submitting documents and viewing how much leave time is available.


Work/life balance is a perennial top request from employees. At its core, the issue is really about having a say in when you’re ‘on the clock’ and when you’re not. Allowing employees to exercise scheduling preferences can substantially improve their experience on the job—and ultimately boost retention. These techniques are already used in some industries, such as healthcare. For instance, many hospitals allow nurses to select and swap shifts. The most convenient—and accurate—approach involves using automated software, such as EmpCenter Advanced Scheduler, to allow employees to state and edit their scheduling preferences within any rules defined by your business. The system can then apply those preferences across all employees in a consistent, fair manner—balancing employer and employee needs simultaneously.


If you’re in an environment that uses attendance tracking for a portion of your employees, you already know how important it is to be fair and equitable in how you apply rules around lateness. If company policy affords employees a five-minute grace period, capturing employee in and out times in your workforce management system will equip you to apply that policy, and any subsequent penalties, with unquestionable objectivity—putting the emphasis back where it belongs, on organizational health and productivity.

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