We all like to feel respected at work. We want to be treated with dignity by our leadership and our coworkers. Obviously, the way we are treated impacts how we feel about our work environment. However, it can also impact what happens when we get home at night. We’ve talked about how your work stress can impact your family before. Today, we talk about how interpersonal justice can hurt or help your ability to disconnect from work at night and feel at ease at home.
What is Interpersonal Justice?
Interpersonal justice is all about how an employee is treated. It is defined as the extent that an employee is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. We know that interpersonal justice is related to a lot of positive things at work.
If employees are treated with respect and dignity at work, they are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and committed to their companies. Employees are more likely to perform better, trust your leader, and help others at work. In addition, this type of justice is related to health outcomes. These employees tend to have higher well-being, lower burnout and stress, and fewer absences from work.
Interpersonal justice is based in how employees perceive their interactions with their leader. It’s measured by asking employees a number of questions on how their leader treats them. Answer these few questions to see if you have high interpersonal justice.
Does your leader:
- Treat you with respect?
- Refrain from improper remarks or comments?
- Treat you with a polite manner?
- Treat you with dignity?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you are in luck! You have high interpersonal justice. If your answers were no, we are so sorry. You deserve better. Read on to learn more.
Why Can’t You Relax at Night?
One recent study focused on how these feelings of justice can impact your evening at home. Overall, leaders need to be consistent in how employees are treated. If one day you are treated with respect and fairness and the next your leader is rude and demeaning, you never know what to expect. That lack of consistency is linked to an inability to detach from work when you get home. In addition, these employees feel more downhearted and sad.
Furthermore, this study examined day-to-day changes in interpersonal justice. If one day is better than the last, you will have an easier time detaching and feel more calm, relaxed, and at ease at home. However, you will struggle with detaching from work again if today you were treated worse than yesterday.
Let me clarify further. We know that detaching from work is important for overall wellness. In the research, we call the extent to which an employee mentally disengages from thoughts about work during their time off, psychological detachment. Worry, rumination, and negative work thoughts cause employees to struggle detaching. If you can’t detach from work, you feel worse. If you can, you are able to feel more relaxed.
In sum, interpersonal justice is important for employees’ well-being outside of work. If you can’t detach, you can’t recharge. Thus, leaders and organizations need to ensure employees are consistently being treated with respect, fairness, and dignity so they can relax after work.
What Should Leaders Do?
This research highlights the importance of treating people with respect and dignity. In addition, this respect and dignity should be consistent. It isn’t ok to flip flop from awful to respectful. That type of inconsistency is particularly bad for employees. Leaders and organizations should care that employees have an opportunity to detach from work. Rested and recharged employees are better performers after all! Thus, leaders need to consistently treat their team members with the respect they deserve. Employees should not have to worry at night whether tomorrow is going to be a good day or a bad day.
It’s nice to say what leaders should do. However, sometimes leaders need some coaching or development to improve. Organizations can create trainings to help their leaders focus on treating employees appropriately. Senior leadership can also help to create a culture of respect and kindness within the organization. They can set the expectations that rude, disrespectful behavior is not tolerated and uphold those expectations. Obviously, anything done at the company-level will have the biggest impact on the largest amount of employees.
But, what if you are an employee and you can’t influence your leader to treat you better? Well, first, think about ways to help you disconnect after work regardless of the situation. We wrote about some research in this area before here and here and talked about it here. Second, consider talking to HR or another trusted leader at your company. Maybe there’s something that can be done to help your situation. Finally, if you have the flexibility to change jobs, maybe consider a switch. Get out from under the rule of a disrespectful leader.
Now go and disconnect from work tonight! Enjoy!