Poor organisational justice


Step 1: Learn about poor organisational justice

What is poor organisational justice?

Poor organisational justice means a lack of:

  • procedural fairness – how fair are processes that are used to reach specific outcomes or decisions, e.g. decision making processes
  • informational fairness – how well employees are kept up to date, or
  • interpersonal fairness – the extent to which they are treated with dignity and respect

Studies suggest that organisational justice is a key cause of many factors which affect employees' attitudes, behaviours and work performance – both positively and negatively.

Working in a fair and transparent environment can help employees cope with the challenges of their job, and promote a culture of loyalty, trust and cooperation. Poor organisational justice however can lead to lower engagement, and dissatisfaction. It may also lead to increased absences and even lead to staff resignations, requiring additional time and money to hire and train new staff.

What are your rights and responsibilities at work?

Employers must provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and free from risks to health, including psychological health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety in the workplace, and the health and safety of others. They must also cooperate with employers to create a safe environment.

Follow the risk management process below to manage risks associated with poor organisational justice.

Step 2: Consult your employees

Consultation can be done in a number of ways. Depending on your workplace, it can be as simple as casually walking around your workplace having a conversation, or as formal as setting up a health and safety committee.

Good consultation has lots of benefits – it leads to better decision making and greater cooperation and trust between employers and employees, who get a better understanding of each other's views.

Consultation isn't just good practice though, it's actually a legal requirement for employers. Employers must consult with employees including health and safety representatives (if any), about matters that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect, their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes identifying whether poor organisational justice may be a hazard at the workplace, and working out how to eliminate or reduce any risks to health and safety occurring. At a minimum, consultation must involve sharing information about any health and safety issues, giving employees reasonable opportunity to share their views on those issues, and taking those views into consideration.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities, as well as how best to consult

Step 3: Identify hazards and risks

A 'hazard' is anything that has the potential to cause harm to a person. Think of hazards like 'situations' or 'things' in the workplace that can hurt someone, either physically or mentally, and risk is the potential of the harm actually happening.

For example, a cable on the floor is a physical hazard. The risk is being physically injured from tripping on that cable. The same applies to hazards that affect our mental health – these are known as psychosocial hazards.

Poor organisational justice is an example of a psychosocial hazard. Exposure to poor organisational justice can increase the risk to psychological health. When risks associated with poor organisational justice are not effectively managed, this may lead to or exacerbate psychological injuries.

Some examples of situations that may lead to poor organisational justice or a sense of unfairness include:

  • inadequate policies and procedures
  • poor handling of worker's information, such as not keeping personal information private
  • lack of transparency of how decisions are made
  • favouritism, bias and lack of fairness in decision making e.g. when assigning 'good shifts'
  • lack of communication about organisational direction, strategy, objectives and planning
  • excluding affected people from consultation and decision-making processes
  • failing to address inappropriate or harmful behaviour, poor performance or misconduct
  • discrimination, harassment and unequal treatment of employees – e.g. not making the workplace accessible
  • employees or managers believing that rules do not apply to them and failing to follow policies, guidelines and procedures, without accountability

Often multiple hazards can be present at the same time and can combine to increase the risk of harm occurring. For example, poor organisational justice, low role clarity, low job control, and poor support from supervisors can combine to increase the risk of harm.

Step 4: Assess the risks

Assess the risk of poor organisational justice occurring

A risk assessment will help you understand the risks to your employees' health and safety, and how to prioritise your efforts to manage them.

It is good practice to identify hazards, both individually and together, that are creating risks to health and safety. Once you have identified the hazards, you can assess the risk of them occurring.

Risk assessment tips

Step 5: Control the risks

A 'control' is simply a term that means 'ways to manage an issue'. These are things that you can put in place to eliminate and reduce risks. The list could be endless, but it's really just about taking reasonable action to manage the risks associated with poor organisational justice.

Here are some ways that employers can take action (or 'implement a control') to:

Remember to measure the effectiveness of existing controls to see if they’re working and look for new ways to control the risks.

Step 6: Share, review and improve

A safe and mentally healthy workplace needs ongoing commitment and engagement.

You want to check whether the controls you’ve implemented are still relevant and effective. By sharing the outcomes of these reviews, as well as suggestions and recommendations for improvements, you can keep the conversation going. This will continue to build trust and cooperation between you and your employees. Consultation must be undertaken before making any changes to the workplace, things used at the workplace, or the conduct of work at the workplace, and these changes should be communicated to your employees.

More information

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.