One thing I find myself telling newer managers (and almost all newer HR professionals) is this: It’s not about fairness or equality. It’s about equity.
In other words, we are under no compunction to treat each employee the same. In fact, I would strongly advise against anything that looked like “identical treatment for all.”
Why? Your “A” players would hate it, and your “mediocres” would love it. Whom would you prefer to satisfy??
Equity, equitable treatment, means that identical circumstances, with identical people, track records, etc., should be treated similarly. For instance: “A” employee with 10 years employment, who’s never missed a day of work for illness, is out for 6 days due to pneumonia. Your policy says anything over 3 days, they should file for short-term disability, since paid-time-off is unavailable. What do you do?
If you want a retained, loyal, hard-working “A” player to know you “give a heck,” you pay him or her as if nothing ever happened. They tell you “thank you,” you say “you’re welcome,” and we all go back to work.
Do that with a mediocre performer? Not on your life. It wouldn’t be equitable, though the mediocre performer would feel it would be “fair.”
Don’t let anyone convince you that we must treat all employees the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.