What Is Favoritism in the Workplace? Definition and Examples

Is it illegal to have favoritism at work?

FAVORITISM AT WORK | How to Deal with Favoritism at Work

Disadvantages of favoritism in the workplace

Favoritism has a number of negative effects on the workplace. The following are some of these effects:

Increased feelings of resentment

Even if your coworker hasn’t done anything wrong, you might become resentful of both your manager and your coworker if you witness your manager showing favoritism towards one of your coworkers. Try speaking with a representative of your HR department if you start to feel resentful or angry as a result of favoritism.

Loss of respect for company leadership

You might lose respect for someone in a position of authority if they openly favor one worker over all others and become less likely to follow their instructions.

Decreased motivation and productivity

It is upsetting when your dedication to the company and work ethic are consistently overlooked while your colleague consistently receives praise or special benefits for what you see as less work. As a result, you might find it difficult to concentrate and lose interest in your work. Try to recall what motivated you to pursue the career you currently hold. If you enjoy the work you do, you might be able to motivate yourself.

Higher employee turnover rates

Employees who perceive favoritism as a problem may leave the company more frequently because they believe their efforts are not valued or that they won’t be able to advance. Consider meeting with your manager to discuss your concerns before deciding to leave your company if you are considering doing so because of favoritism.

Inability to advance within the company

When a manager has a preference for one worker, they might be more inclined to offer them promotions or unique tasks that will help them develop their skill sets and land more senior positions. You might lose out on opportunities for your own advancement as a result of this. Ask your manager about career advancement opportunities if you worry you’re being passed over for opportunities. You might have to take the initiative to demonstrate your credentials.

What is favoritism in the workplace?

Favoritism in the workplace is when a person in a position of authority shows preference for one worker over others. This typically happens because the two have a personal connection or friendship, not because of how well they are performing at work. As a result, the preferred employee may be given more challenging assignments or promotions than other candidates with higher qualifications. Additionally, they might experience fewer or no consequences for tardiness or failure to meet deadlines.

How to prevent favoritism in the workplace

If you believe another employee is receiving preferential treatment at work, take the following actions to help prevent favoritism:

1. Incorporate the topic into onboarding discussions

If you work in HR, be sure to bring up favoritism during the onboarding process for new hires, especially for those moving into leadership positions. This enables brand-new workers to distinguish between praise for a strong work ethic and the appearance of favoritism. It also demonstrates to new managers the significance of making sure their workers receive equal treatment.

2. Suggest a workplace cultural survey

Develop an anonymous survey with your HR department to determine the level of favoritism that employees see or experience at your company. This could help you confirm or refute your suspicions of favoritism, and if others share your concerns, it might even spur change within your department.

3. Develop open communication

By discussing your feelings with your manager, you two can establish an open line of communication. This is necessary regardless of whether you feel that they are favoring you excessively or ignoring you because it gives them the chance to retract their position, provide an explanation, or change their management approach to be more inclusive.

How to address favoritism in the workplace

Use these four steps to address favoritism in the workplace:

1. Evaluate whether its actually favoritism

Review your performance history and work ethic in comparison to the preferred employee. It might not be favoritism, but rather something else, like a worker coming up with original ideas, always being positive, or constantly looking for ways to improve. In this situation, you can emulate them and learn from their behavior to enhance your performance at work.

2. Speak directly with leadership

Discuss the situation with a member of HR, your manager, or both. It’s possible that your manager was unaware that their behavior left other employees and you feeling undervalued. For a productive workplace, management can review their relationship with you and your coworkers by having an open dialogue early on.

3. Refrain from venting to other employees

This could make you appear unprofessional and put your coworkers and you in a awkward situation. Additionally, it might heighten resentment and contribute to a lack of trust at work. Try to remain upbeat and focused to uphold your professionalism in the eyes of your coworkers.

4. Speak up more than once

Do not be afraid to bring up the subject again and again if you feel that your manager’s meetings about favoritism aren’t getting any better. If nothing changes, you might want to start looking for jobs where you know you’ll be valued.

How to resolve favoritism as the favored employee

If you think you might be a victim of favoritism at work, take the following actions:

1. Give credit to your coworkers

If your manager is showing favoritism toward you, you can ensure that your coworkers feel appreciated by thanking them in front of the group for their assistance in completing a task. In addition, if your manager compliments you for something you didn’t do, you may choose to correct them.

2. Suggest your coworkers for projects

Receiving a new assignment that calls for more expertise and responsibility may seem exciting, but if you notice that your coworkers are routinely passed over for new projects, you might be able to use your position to help them receive the credit they deserve. By demonstrating to your manager that your coworkers are capable of completing the same projects, you could ease any conflict you might be experiencing with your team.

3. Question additional benefits

Ask your manager why youre receiving certain benefits (e. g. additional vacation time, new office appliances) to gauge their reasoning. You might be able to persuade them that in order to maintain a positive work environment, everyone in your department needs to receive the same benefits.

4. Maintain a professional relationship

It might be simple to become friends with your manager and have more intimate conversations with them in the workplace if there is favoritism. By politely declining an invitation to attend a concert or conference with them, you can lessen the possibility of showing favoritism. Instead, make it about the company and opportunities for teambuilding by involving the rest of your coworkers.

Examples of favoritism in the workplace

To assist you in determining whether this kind of conduct occurs at your place of employment, the following examples of favoritism in the workplace are provided:


Giving gifts to one employee over another is an example of favoritism unless it’s that employee’s birthday or they won a contest. Specific examples include:

Promotions and opportunities

It may be a sign of favoritism if a qualified, diligent worker is passed over for a promotion in favor of someone who has worked for the company for a much shorter period of time. Examples include:


Favoritism may occur if a person in a leadership position only recognizes one employee’s efforts when a task was equally shared by a number of other employees. Other examples of favoritism through praise include:


How do you prove favoritism at work?

Favoritism in the workplace can occur when two coworkers have a history of working together or when they become close because of a shared hobby, such as music or sports. When these friendships develop into potential harassment, the negative effects of favoritism in the workplace may become even worse.

How do you handle favoritism at work?

10 signs of favoritism at work.
  1. There are undeserved promotions. …
  2. Only some people’s input is up for consideration. …
  3. A coworker receives extra attention from your leadership. …
  4. There are double standards. …
  5. It’s easy to identify the boss’s pet. …
  6. You detect a sense of entitlement. …
  7. Someone’s getting extra privileges.

Is favoritism in the workplace legal?

How to resolve favoritism as the favored employee
  1. Give credit to your coworkers. …
  2. Suggest your coworkers for projects. …
  3. Question additional benefits. …
  4. Maintain a professional relationship.

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