Last updateMon, 18 Jan 2021 7pm


How to Deal with Favoritism at Work

How to dealOne of the most awkward experiences you’ll have in a workplace is living alongside favoritism. Maybe the favoritism comes from an equal or a higher-up, but you start to notice someone getting special treatment that others don’t. Their mistakes are brushed under the rug, and it seems they can do no wrong despite clear evidence they’re an issue. How does it happen? Higher-ups have a lot of reasons for using favoritism amongst their employees, but more often than not it’s to gain something. It’s about what the coworker represents.

Suzanne Lucas, a freelance writer who has worked in corporate human resources for a decade, discussed favoritism in the workplace for

“Nothing good happens when a manager shows favoritism towards an employee,” Lucas wrote. “The non-favored employees begin to feel that their accomplishments are not recognized. They get discouraged at the lack of correlation between hard work and success.”

The higher-up wants them to succeed because in some way it reflects positively on the higher-up. Regardless of how destructive the workplace becomes, the higher-up does not care so long as their reasons for committing favoritism are fulfilled. Maybe the higher-up envisions themselves shaking hands one day in a photo-op after the employee wins an award, or their reasons began small but snowballed into a hole that can’t be dug out of.

There are two perspectives on the issue: from the favorite, and from the person doing the favoring. From the higher-up, this occurs because of self-fulfilling desires taking priority over the function of the workplace. The higher-up sees personal success as a result of the coworker doing well, and the favoritism allows the coworker to create an environment where they can work as they please.

For the coworker, they’ll likely be keeping their head down. Who would say no to having special privileges, being taken under the wing of someone who can shape whatever reality they can picture? It may seem like the easy road to take, but the coworker will suffer when it’s all said and done. The higher-up’s desire to fulfill their own needs hurts the coworker in the long run, as they won’t learn the skills needed to succeed outside of the higher-up’s wing. The higher-up aims to use the coworker for a period of time, as their immediate success reflects highly on the higher-up. But what happens when the coworker moves on? They’re destined to fail, but the higher-up had likely fulfilled their own goal by then.

Travis Greenberg, a senior anthropology major, considers favoritism to be a rising issue.

“It hurts to feel like someone is playing by a different set of rules than you,” Greenberg said. “You even see it in class. All I want is for everyone to have an equal chance without influence from someone in charge helping them along.”

You can deal with this by telling yourself it’s not your business. I know, I know, it actually is your business since the coworker is negatively impacting the office by skating by on everything. But it’s not your business in the sense that it’s out of your control. There’s no sense in making yourself upset over situations you can’t control. All you can do is just go with the flow and hope your higher-up’s selfishness doesn’t put too many problems on your plate.

Favoritism, above all else, is a sign of weak leadership. You are a bad leader if you prioritize your own desires above the health and functionality of the workplace you were meant to lead. You are a bad leader if you gaslight your workers into thinking someone they see routinely misbehave is not affecting overall performance. You are a bad leader if your own selfish agenda leaks into the workplace, whatsoever. When it’s all said and done, nobody wins. The coworker is now unprepared for the real world away from the higher-up’s wing, and the higher-up loses all respect from their workers. It doesn’t matter how great you lead in the past, all your workers know is the stressful moments they wade through every day. Adding to that stress instead of working to take it away… makes you an awful leader.


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