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Fairness and its link to Organisational Performance

We witness the use of the word fairness every day, several times a day.

From our politicians who promote the concept, to our children who complain about inequity, Fairness and the lack of fairness is all around us.

Many suggest that the presence of fairness promotes people performance in Organisations. This would seem to be true if one believes that Fairness is the second most powerful driver for human emotive response. With Greed at number three, this is indeed an interesting concept.

The question then must arise as to how fairness can be evident within teams, departments or indeed whole organisations. How can we be fair to everyone or enough people at least in order to be seen to be fair?

The answer of course is that we rarely can. The concept of fairness is referenced to the Equity Theory (Adams) and before that the original research into “personal justice” or “distributive justice” by Hal Ering. Both theories suggest that individuals’ values and beliefs are accessed and referenced before any judgment is made as to the fairness or acceptability of a situation. So with everyone in the world slightly different, how can we as business leaders create a platform of fairness in pursuit of organisational performance increases?

The real answer lies somewhere between an idea of engaging people, and the idea that this is just not possible. TAM however, has developed an approach to the fairness question, by analysis of the stages of acceptance.

This would imply that we can in fact achieve a culture of fairness in our working Organisations, by the establishment of a “threshold of fairness” We often refer to this, every day in fact, when we say “fair enough” When enough fairness is demonstrated by the Organisation, we as individual people allow the benefits of fair play to exist even though absolute fairness to us is not in place.

“Fair enough” is in turn established by triggering one of the key emotional buy in activities; that of being asked ones view. This view in turn needs to be asked in a non-threatening way, with no subjective responses, allowing the simple truth according to the responder to be voiced. Simple enough?

Employee Engagement is one such measure of how disposed our people are to accept our suggested threshold of fairness and in turn how motivated they are to working with our values and practices.

So the only real question remains; how do we ask our teams for their real and true views, which in turn will trigger a Fairness threshold, which will then provide us with increased Organisational performance?

For more information about this blog, or to find out how the TAM programme facilitates such a need, and delivers both fairness and performance; contact me at

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