Favoritism in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know

When someone shows favoritism, it can turn people off, affect trust, and lead to arguments. This is especially true at work, where it happens all the time. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 20% of employees reported experiencing favoritism at work. 

This preferential treatment doesn’t only affect an organization’s work environment and success; it may also result in something serious because it can be a precursor for employees to pursue discrimination claims. 

In this article, we’ll talk about favoritism, its impact on team dynamics, strategies to address and prevent it, employee engagement, and how to complain about favoritism at work.

Identifying Favoritism in the Workplace

To recognize workplace favoritism, observe patterns of preferential treatment towards certain employees. This can be seen in different ways like consistently assigning the most desirable tasks to one individual, overlooking the mistakes of a particular employee, or frequently socializing with a select group outside of work hours. 

Pay attention to how promotions, raises, and opportunities for advancement are distributed among colleagues. If you notice a trend where the same individuals always seem to benefit while others are consistently left behind, it could be a sign of favoritism.

Also, keep an eye on how feedback and recognition are given out. If one employee receives glowing praise for work that’s on par with what others are doing, while the efforts of their colleagues go unnoticed, there may be bias at play. Another red flag is when certain employees are consistently exempt from following company policies or rules that others are held accountable to. By observing these behaviors and patterns, you can better identify instances of favoritism in the workplace.

Impact of Favoritism on Employee Morale

Favoritism in the workplace can seriously affect an employee’s morale, overall job satisfaction, and motivation levels. When certain employees receive preferential treatment, others may feel undervalued and unmotivated. This can cause a decrease in productivity, as disheartened employees may lack the enthusiasm to perform at their best. Favoritism also creates a toxic work environment, breeding resentment and discord among team members.

Employee morale is necessary for the success of a company. Low morale resulting from perceived favoritism can lead to higher turnover rates as employees seek fairer opportunities elsewhere. A negative work atmosphere also hinders collaboration and teamwork, affecting the organization’s overall performance.

To address the impact of favoritism on morale, management must foster a culture of transparency and fairness. Open communication, equal opportunities, and recognition based on merit rather than favoritism can help boost employee morale and create a more positive and productive work environment.

Strategies for Addressing Workplace Favoritism

Foster an open communication channel where employees feel safe to voice their concerns regarding favoritism. Encouraging transparency in decision-making processes also promotes fairness and reduces the likelihood of favoritism. Implementing clear guidelines and policies that outline the expectations for behavior and performance evaluations ensures that all employees are evaluated based on objective criteria.

Training managers and supervisors on how to recognize and address favoritism matters too. Provide them with tools to handle conflicts of interest professionally and fairly. Establish a system for employees to provide anonymous feedback or raise complaints about favoritism without fear of retaliation. Regularly monitoring and assessing the workplace dynamics also helps identify any signs of favoritism and take corrective action promptly.

Preventing Favoritism in Your Organization

Start by implementing clear and transparent policies and procedures that apply to everyone equally. Make sure these guidelines are well-communicated and readily accessible to all employees. Encourage open communication channels where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns regarding favoritism.

Promote a culture of fairness and equity by recognizing and rewarding employees based on their performance and contributions rather than personal relationships. Encourage managers to give constructive feedback and coaching to all employees, not just a select few. Implement regular training sessions on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias to raise awareness and educate employees on the importance of treating everyone fairly.

Create opportunities for team building and collaboration to foster a sense of unity among employees. By encouraging teamwork, mutual respect, consistency, and fairness can help prevent favoritism from taking root in your organization. 

Promoting Equity in the Work Environment

To foster a fair and inclusive work environment, prioritize promoting equity through consistent policies and unbiased practices. Have all employees be treated fairly and have equal opportunities for growth and recognition, together with an implementation of clear and transparent guidelines for hiring promotions, and performance evaluations. This helps in creating a level playing field for everyone in the organization.

Encourage open communication and feedback channels to actively listen to your employees’ feedback and take necessary actions to rectify any disparities. Providing regular training on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias can also increase awareness and promote a more equitable workplace culture.

Establish a zero-tolerance policy towards favoritism, discrimination, and any form of unfair treatment. Hold all employees, including managers and leaders, accountable for their actions and decisions. By consistently upholding these principles and practices, you can cultivate a work environment where equity thrives and every individual feels valued and respected.


Recognizing and addressing favoritism in the workplace is necessary in maintaining a positive work environment and in guaranteeing fair treatment of all employees. By implementing strategies to prevent favoritism and promote equity, organizations can foster a culture of respect and equality among their staff.

Addressing favoritism not only boosts employee morale but also contributes to overall organizational success. Stay proactive in combating favoritism in your workplace.