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Labor & Employment Law: Strategic HR Lawyer
Please Don't Treat Everyone the Same!
It should come as no surprise that I teach employment law. Every so often someone articulates rather assertively that organizations have to treat all employees equally. No, organizations do not have to treat all employees equally. They have to treat them equitably. Now I know that's kind of a big word, but what it really means is that employees need to be treated fairly.
Organizations treat people the same as a way to avoid getting sued. The theory is that if everyone is treated the same no one is able to make a case that he/she was treated differently and therefore possibly discriminated against. It's the safe but ineffective way.
Once an organization starts to treat everyone the same, it fails to distinguish between good performers and bad performers. As a result, and regardless of economic conditions, good performers leave and bad performers stay.
Effective human resources practitioners focus on employee performance - improving it or addressing where it is lacking. The law, the policies, the procedures and everything else is just boring. Treating everyone the same is easier though. Insisting on addressing the poor performers and rewarding the good performers is harder and takes guts.
The real human resources professional is:
- Not afraid to draw a line in the sand.
- Not afraid to be challenged (sued) when distinctions are made among employees and one is fired and one is not.
- Not afraid to call a spade a spade.
Businesses need to be run like businesses and our employees deserve to be treated as individuals and rewarded for their efforts.
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