Being treated fairly is important – but fairness alone isn’t enough to make individuals feel valued at a workplace or other groups, new research suggests.
Researchers discovered that, along with fair treatment, “distinctive treatment” – in which a individual’s qualities and abilities are recognized – provides this sense of value while also reinforcing their sense of inclusion. It also promotes psychological wellness.
The findings indicate there isn’t any conflict between “fair treatment” And “distinctive treatment” in classes – in fact they complement each other.
But while the value of being fairly treated is widely accepted, the researchers say distinctive treatment is often overlooked.
The study was carried out at the University of Exeter, UCLA and Sonoma State University.
“In six studies of workplaces and other groups, we find that this is indeed key to fostering individuals’ sense of belonging.”
“However, individuals also need to be shown that they have some distinct value to the group.”
“When colleagues or fellow group members show interest and appreciation for an individual’s more distinguishing qualities, that individual benefits.”
“This kind of distinctive treatment has real benefits for mental health too, including less anxiety and depression.”
“To be clear, fair treatment is a must – but our studies show it’s also woefully insufficient on its own.”
“Individuals need to feel more than inclusion. As well as ‘fitting in’, they need to ‘stand out’ – to feel that they have some distinct value and worth that they bring to the group.”
Asked how organizations could embed fair and distinctive treatment in their workplace, Dr Begeny said: “It helps to have supervisors with the time and energy to recognize and tap into the particular skills and knowledge of the different people they supervise. “
“Another method is to produce well-developed systems of mentorship, permitting people to share their experience and expertise.”
“This may also foster a workplace culture that’s not only inclusive, but value-affirming – in which people regularly seek out each other for information, which can be beneficial to both parties.”
Dr Begeny added: “Expressing distinctive treatment doesn’t simply mean sending out a mass email saying ‘if anyone has some ideas about the project, please let me know’.
“It’s going to a individual, or small group of People, and saying, ‘hey, I truly think your insights and perspectives may be an asset to this endeavor. Would you be willing to offer your ideas?’ “
“It is not a passive process of hearing individuals when they have thoughts to share.”
“It involves actively seeking them out – taking the initiative learn exactly what an individual has to provide -and showing recognition and appreciation for it.”
Of the six studies, four were conducted in offices, while the others examined fair and distinctive treatment in student communities, also in racial/ethnic minority communities.
In all cases, distinctive treatment provided apparent advantages when included along with fair treatment.
Related Journal Article: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251871