Understanding the importance of organisational justice

By Ashni Walia and Priya Chetty on March 30, 2020

The concept of organisational justice was first postulated by Greenberg in the year 1987. The term refers to the employee’s perception regarding their organization’s behaviors, decisions, actions and how they impact the employee’s attitude and behavior. Furthermore, the term organisational justice is also an associated concept of fairness (Baldwin, 2006). The system of organisational justice generally depends on 5 important principals (Cropanzano, Bowen, & Gilliland, 2007).

1. Effective reporting avenues

For organisational justice in order to prevail effectively, it is important that businesses should have appropriate reporting avenues for managers and their teams. Whether there are one or multiple avenues, senior executives should focus on encouraging employees to report any misconduct they face (Victor, Trevino, & Shapiro, 1993).

2. Equal discipline

For the effective working of an organization, it is absolutely critical that the system should work towards imposing discipline consistently without giving any attention to the seniority of the offender (Yean & Yusof, 2016). Unequal discipline will undermine the chances of organisational justice.

3. Prompt resolution

“Justice delayed is the justice denied” is popularly applied in the context of organisational justice. Businesses should acknowledge employees’ concerns promptly. Matters that require investigation should be identified and assigned (Eigen & Litwin, 2014).

4. Non-retaliation against whistleblowers

Organizations must have fair whistleblowing policies and must ensure to have clear procedures to show actions against unwelcome incidents. This is important in order to gain employees’ trust (Seifert, Stammerjohan, & Martin, 2014).  

5. Compliance program improvements

It is important for businesses to monitor and analyze the results of internal investigations in order to enhance compliance programs (Waribo, Akintayo, A., & Imhonopi, 2019). Internal investigations can help in finding weaknesses in their internal control systems.

Importance of organisational justice

The system of organisational justice plays an important role in organizations. Employees’ perception regarding justice is linked to many key individual and organisational outcomes. Some of the major reasons due to which organisational justice is considered to be important include (Jawad, 2012):

  • Employees who feel that their organization is treating them fairly enjoy greater job satisfaction and thus are generally more committed towards their work and the organization.
  • Another important point is that their perception of their treatment can also be the source of organisational success and competitive success. Furthermore, their perception of injustice tends to reduce positive outcomes and can also promote retaliatory and vengeful behavior.
  • When employees feel that they have been treated fairly, organizations are able to maintain control over potential challenges and threats they face from staff, thus reaping the benefits of being a good employer.
  • Furthermore, organisational justice is also linked to employees’ health and well-being.

Application of organisational justice in contemporary businesses

In the present business environment, a culture of ethics and compliance cannot exist without organisational justice (Ledimo, 2015). If managers and staff within organizations perceive that the internal justice system is not working properly, the company, in turn, will not be able to build critical values of trust and integrity. This can, in turn, result in a stale culture, distrust and an increase in fear among employees, ultimately leading to even more misconduct. Furthermore, an effective system of organisational justice can prove to be an important asset for firms. It can help organizations to sustain productivity, profits and employee morale (Latan & Ramli, 2014).

Distributive organisational justice

This type of justice relates to outcomes being distributed proportionally with respect to inputs. Outcomes here can refer to wages, social approval, job security, promotion or career opportunities. Inputs, on the other hand, will include education, training, experience, and efforts of employees. This form of organisational justice is normally upheld by standardized HR policies which include job grades, salary bands, universal training and avoiding favoritism within the organization (Cropanzano & Molina, 2015).

For instance, there may be certain occasions within the organization when an employee might feel there has been an unfair distribution of benefits. They may feel that another employee in the same position in the organization is promoted while the concerned individual is not. This can directly result in lower productivity and commitment towards the organization.

Procedural organisational justice

This type of organisational justice is concerned with the fairness of decisions that lead to a particular outcome. It has been found that procedural justice can outweigh distributive justice. People in certain cases may be willing to accept unwanted outcomes if they find that decisions leading to it were conducted according to the organisational principles (Yean & Yusof, 2016).

For example, this might apply to hypothetical promotions where an unpromoted employee may be placated if they feel that the system used to decide promotion is transparent and is free from bias.

Interactional organisational justice

This refers to the quality of interpersonal treatment received by employees, particularly those who are part of formal decision making. There are some key aspects of interactional justice that can help employees in improving their perception regarding fair treatment. This includes truthfulness, which means that the information provided to employees must be realistic and accurate. Moreover, it should be presented in an open and straightforward manner. Next is respect, which means that employees should be treated with dignity. Finally, justification means that if injustice occurs, explanation or apology can reduce a sense of anger (Jawad, 2012).

Absence of organisational justice and the need for an ombudsman

Organisational justice is considered as one of the universal predictors of employees’ and organisational outcomes. Thus it stands as an important pillar of organisational development. Furthermore, it can also be said that the absence of the justice is likely to affect many factors that might include employees’ attitude towards the organization such as their job satisfaction, turnover intention, and their organisational commitment. Moreover, the absence of organisational justice will tend to have a negative impact on employees’ innovative work behavior. This will ultimately have an adverse effect on the profitability and productivity of the organization. However, an organization in the absence of proper organisational justice policies can adopt a model where they can employ an ombudsman who can temporarily ensure that justice is being served in the organization. This, however, cannot work in the long run.


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Ashni Walia