How do employee perceptions of fairness affect motivation?

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Employee perceptions of fairness have a considerable effect upon their motivation, productivity and morale. These factors all affect the employer’s labour costs as low morale and workforce dissatisfaction increase employee turnover. Every employee is entitled to justice in the workplace, but many feel they do not get this and as a result may feel, embittered and negative towards the employer’s aims and objectives. There are several causes of perceptions of unfairness. A dismissive attitude towards workers’ rights could be one reason. Nowadays, developed countries have policies in place which purport to uphold worker health and safety for example, yet firms which do not practice what they preach are often responsible for health-related diseases and accidents. Tribunals can be organised but often workers who are not expertly represented can feel they have lost on out compensation or just insurance payouts. Other workers see this happening and make a negative and cynical judgement on their employer and so have little motivation to increase output or productivity and will leave work dead on the minute, not seeing any reason why they should be flexible about working hours or overtime. They then keep their eyes open for better opportunities with firms elsewhere and jump ship the minute they can, and all the while they are watching the jobs market they are not looking to their employer’s best interests.

Unfair dismissal is another worry for employees who feel insecure as they know that if they come across bad practises they have no one to turn to as whistleblowers will simply be thrown out. Likewise for their contracts, if there are breaches, they dare not say anything. Wage and salary inconsistency is another common grievance. Employees may see others paid more for the same job, female workers for example, or seniors. They may see others promoted above them for no good reason that they can discern and then their grudge simmers on for years, affecting the quality of their work and their relationship with bosses. Availability of work causes a lot of uncertainty and insecurity. In the UK for example, a new state of affairs is causing a lot of bad-tempered press in the press and other media. Zero hours contracts as they are called, are contracts that are offered to employees who are so desperate they will sign up with a firm knowing there is n o guarantee of work in any particular week, and there may even be zero hours. Some employees have to agree to go in when needed as cover, for example for one hour only out of an entire week. Clearly, these situations will do nothing for a country’s recovery to economic prosperity.

Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our government to give employment to idle men. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)