Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 3:33 am on

Way back when and on more occasions than I care to remember, factory workers would complain to me that their immediate supervisors were playing favorites. Most often this issue surfaced as a result of overtime assignments or during layoffs & recalls. Until I was asked for some advice on this subject from a friend of a friend, I had forgotten how I made this a problem of the past.

As one who has managed companies in both union and non-union environments, I learned that this type of grievance was noticeably absent in union shops. In my opinion, the reason was simple - the contract generally provided a negotiated set of rules that addressed issues like the awarding of overtime or selecting personnel for layoffs and recalls. Even in instances where contracts were lopsided in the favor of the company, employees accepted the rules as long as they were uniformly applied.

So if you have a non-union shop, consider a written procedure that is published for all to understand and follow. Set up your procedure in a way that satisfies your needs and prevents the possibility of subjectivity on the part of your supervisors. Make sure the procedure is well-publicized and uniformly enforced.

For example, equitable distribution of overtime could be accomplished by using a rotating list. Such a procedure might be written up as follows:

Equitable Distribution of Overtime

  1. The VP of Operations and the Director of HR will set minimum measurable performance standards for each job category.
  2. For each job category, HR will prepare a list of workers who meet the minimum standard. Each list will be prepared in descending seniority order.
  3. As overtime is needed, the immediate supervisor will ask each person starting with the most senior and record the date and time.
  4. A decline to work counts as having worked.
  5. The supervisor will rotate down through the list giving each person a chance.
  6. After three passes through the list, the list will be returned to HR and the process will be repeated going back to step #2.

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