News & Views

A blog for those interested in what affects, motivates and drives the New York City Nonprofit Sector — written by CRE’s crackerjack consulting team. We hope you use this space to share your thoughts, ask questions and engage in conversations about our city, social justice and the nonprofit sector.

HR Without HR, Part 4: Employing Fair, Consistent, and Rigorous Practices


By Pavitra Menon, Senior Consultant - Organizations must develop systems that promote fairness and consistency in all decisions related to people because without them productivity and morale will plummet. In addition, ensuring fair and consistent practices will most likely keep organizations from unintentionally breaking the law.

What gets in the way of being fair?

  • Managers tend to overrate themselves on treating people with dignity and respect.
  • Managers sometimes mistakenly assume that money or benefits are more meaningful than fair and decent treatment.
  • The benefits of fairness aren’t always obvious or tangible.
  • It often seems easier to avoid uncomfortable situations.
Ultimately, each employee decides for him- or herself whether a decision has been made fairly. But broadly speaking, there are three drivers of fair process (expanded to the right).
  1. Employee Perceptions
  2. Employee Input in Decision Making
  3. Leader Behaviors

A comprehensive personnel policy manual that is reviewed and updated as necessary on an annual basis is a must for every organization large or small. More importantly the policies in the manual must be strictly adhered to by all irrespective of title and level within the organization. Where appropriate, make very clear who the policy applies to and to whom it does not; for example, identify what level of staff are allowed to telecommute. The personnel manual MUST include these basic policies:
  1. EEO Policy
  2. Introductory Period
  3. Performance Evaluation 
  4. Timekeeping
  5. Confidentiality
  6. Employee Concerns
  7. Disciplinary Process
  8. Harassment and Sexual Harassment
  9. Employee Benefits (Vacation, Holidays, Pay Practices, Pay Dates)
Refer to CRE’s sample personnel manual for more information.

Another way to ensure fair process is to handle employee concerns and grievances in a timely and consistent manner. Here are some tips:
  • Encourage open communication 
  • Outline a process for resolving employee concerns in your manual and adhere to it
  • Be prompt, responsive and consistent
  • Train managers and supervisors on the process
  • Communicate the process to staff
  • Provide staff with an alternative contact to their direct supervisor 
  • Include a process for appealing disciplinary decisions
There is a moral imperative for organizations to practice fair process. It is, simply put, the right thing to do. As such, fair process is the responsibility of all managers, at all levels, and in all functions. A manager must minimize the costs of decisions that might threaten employees and maximize the benefits of decisions that may be sources of opportunity for them. In both instances, practicing fair process will help get you there.

Previous blog posts in the HR Without HR Series:
HR Without HR
HR Without HR, Part 2: Tips For Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Staff
HR Without HR, Part 3: Putting the Right People in the Right Place Doing the Right Things

For more information on CRE's Human Resources services, please follow this link.

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