Favoritism About Workplace Privileges

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about favoritism:

We have a in-group and an out-group where I work, in a school environment. Eg. Out in the playground, some staff are allowed to sit whilst supervising the children, while others are not. There are other issues also, eg. some staff are given food from the kitchen, while others are not.

Signed, Feeling Left Out

Dear Feeling Left Out:

Nearly always when something seems so blatantly wrong, there is some other issue going on. Ask HR or your direct supervisor about any organizational rules related to sitting, eating, etc., and see if there is a misunderstanding. If you have worked there for years, consider if anyone has ever been fired or disciplined for violating such biased-sounding rules. If not, there probably is no such rule and people just keep blindly sticking to a misconception. Or, you may find out that there is a clearly stated policy that relates to job description, tenure, work schedule or some other issue. For example, in a pre-school with which I’m familiar, employees can eat the school-prepared food, according to the shift they’re working. Some get only breakfast, some get breakfast and lunch, some only get lunch and some do not get a meal while working.

Reasons for the differences are stated in the employee manual. However, employees still complain now and then and often allege favoritism. If you are sure this is just pressure from a group of fellow teachers, or favoritism for some of them, keep in mind that they probably won’t hurt you physically. Maybe it’s time for others to take a stand (or a seat) and push back on the made-up rules. Your best approach will be to communicate about it and ask someone in authority to explain why there are differences in requirements between teachers. Do it in a way that is focused on making work better for everyone and building the team so it can be more effective with students. Some in-group and out-group issues are minor and not worth hassling over (i.e., the in-group sits at one table almost every day.) But, something as prevasive as you describe shouldn’t be allowed to continue or get worse. Best wishes to you. If you have the time, let us know what happens with this.

Tina Lewis Rowe