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How to Eliminate Favouritism in the Workplace

Published November 04, 2016 (last updated August 16, 2023) - Face2Face Field Service Manager

While few people would admit to favouritism in the workplace, it certainly does occur.

When preparing staff rosters, have you given one staff member better shifts or the shifts they would prefer while disregarding other requests? Have you ever promoted a staff member because of your relationship with them, not because of their work performance? Perhaps you have given one employee an early mark while everyone else had to finish their working day?

Actions like this can be classed as favouritism and can lead to formal complaints such as discrimination.

Favouritism is defined as favouring one person, or a group of people, not because of the work performed but due to reasons stemming from outside the working relationship. In some businesses, nepotism may also be prevalent, whereby family members who work together are given preferential treatment.

While this sort of behaviour gives rise to potential workplace claims, it can also impact your employees, which in turn directly impacts your business. When favouritism or nepotism is present, effects are one in the same, as listed below.

Low morale

If hard working employees are disregarded and do not receive acknowledgement or reward, morale will understandably decrease, resulting in loss of productivity and a decline in the quantity and quality of work produced. Chances are that if one employee feels this way, others will be the same.


If the favouritism or nepotism continues, resentment can occur and will generally be directed at the manager as well as the favoured employee.


Low morale and resentment will most probably get the better of employees, leading them to feel there is no choice but to leave the company. If this occurs, you have potentially lost a valuable employee that now needs replacing.

Business impact

While the impacts to the business may not be obvious straight away, low morale, lack of productivity and employee resignations can have a disastrous effect on business success. Further, if you promote employees into positions they are not skilled in or ready for, the business will undoubtedly be compromised.

Breach of employment obligations

Last but certainly not least, if an employee feels the favouritism stems from discrimination, you may receive a claim against you meaning you are liable for legal costs associated with defending the claim and if you are found to be in breach of your employment obligations, a compensation payout. Overall, this is a costly affair which could cripple your business.

Introducing workplace policies surrounding favouritism, nepotism and discrimination can assist in preventing such actions amongst workers and managers alike. This policy must clearly identify what your expectations are and if a complaint is lodged, the process that will follow. Ensuring each and every employee had received and read the policy, and has access to a copy at any time will clearly explain the standards expected throughout your workplace.

Training managers on the appropriate ways to manage, reward and recognise employees can also reduce the risk of favouritisms occurring. You can also construct a recognition chart, outlining specific milestones employees need to achieve in order to gain certain rewards. These can greatly assist in determining employee pay scales and ensure favouritism does not play a part in pay rises.

As the leading workplace relations specialist, Employsure can advise on the appropriate action to take if faced with issues of favouritism, nepotism or discrimination. Call us today on 0800 675 700.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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