How Organizational Justice Impacts Workplace Outcomes

How Organizational Justice Impacts Workplace Outcomes

How Organizational Justice Impacts Workplace Outcomes banner

A hot topic amid today’s employee engagement concerns, organizational justice reveals how employees view the work landscape and how those perceptions shape their job satisfaction and performance. This broad concept can encompass everything from pay to interactions with management and general workplace culture.

While organizational justice is beginning to gain traction across industries, this concept remains poorly understood. To clear up ongoing misconceptions, we will provide a deep dive, revealing: what is organizational justice, why does it matter, and how can it be most effectively implemented?

What Is Organizational Justice?

Organizational justice reflects how employees perceive fairness in the workplace. This can differ not only based on how leaders or management professionals arrive at key decisions, but also how they communicate this information.

Different employees may evaluate fairness based on different parameters, but their conclusions can spell significant implications for how they deal with workplace challenges or leverage professional opportunities. This concept can have a significant impact on employee engagement and satisfaction and may also lead to improvements in productivity and other metrics of employee performance.

Defining Organizational Justice in Modern Workplaces

Our concept of organizational justice has evolved considerably over time. While the term itself was proposed by Jerald Greenberg during the 1980s, the concept has existed, in some capacity, since at least the 1960s. Early research on organizational justice focused on how resources were allocated but since then, the multifaceted nature of organizational justice has become more apparent. Hence, the establishment of the concept’s main pillars (the types of organizational justice), which we will discuss in more detail below.

These days, organizational justice is a priority because research demonstrates the importance of employee satisfaction and commitment, both of which are clearly influenced by perceptions of fairness. Effective leaders recognize that, by shaping these perceptions through fair treatment and clear communication, they can help employees achieve their full potential while attracting and retaining the best talent.

The Pillars of Organizational Justice

The concept of organizational justice is now classified based on several main components — or pillars — that reflect how employees are impacted by specific policies, scenarios, or experiences. The currently recognized types of organizational justice include the following:


Centered around the allocation of resources (both tangible and intangible), this form of organizational justice focuses on outcomes over processes. This principle supports allocating resources or services equally among individuals. It assumes that treating people as ‘morally equal’ promotes fairness and improves workplace outcomes.


Procedural justice emphasizes the processes that underscore various decisions or actions. This assumes that perceptions of fairness are more closely tied to the policies that lead to specific outcomes, rather than the outcomes themselves. While employees can concede that they do not have full control over organizational outcomes, many will accept seemingly unfavorable decisions if they believe that the process involved in making these decisions was fair.

The voice effect can play into this concept, revealing employees’ preference to have a say in decision-making processes, even when the final decisions do not come down in their favor. Should decision-makers properly acknowledge input from multiple employees, their decisions are more likely to be perceived as fair.


Interactional justice reflects on how management, employees, and other stakeholders communicate with one another. This may focus on interactions in times of conflict or when providing feedback. Interactional justice represents a broad pillar that includes two main subcategories:

  • Interpersonal justice. Highlighting the extent to which employees are treated with dignity and respect, interpersonal justice emphasizes the need for polite interactions and for leaders to avoid prejudicial comments.

Informational justice. Employees expect that they will receive timely and accurate information. This subcategory can be further divided into essentials such as truthfulness and justification, with the latter referencing the need for employees to receive clear explanations for why specific decisions have been made.

Who Manages Organizational Justice?

Because organizational justice is such a nuanced and far-reaching concept, it calls for a collaborative effort that draws on government agencies and legislative efforts, along with societal norms and, of course, organizational policies.

In the business environment, executives and other high-level management professionals play a critical role in driving policies that promote organizational justice. This begins with transparent decision-making processes in which input is actively sought from numerous employees and given sufficient consideration.

Clear guidelines are also crucial, as these make it abundantly clear that decisions are made according to objective criteria, and not at the whim of the leader in question. Once decisions have been made and policies have been established, these must be consistently enforced across the full scope of the organization.

The Role of Leadership in Fostering Fair Practices

Leaders play a vital role in developing and implementing workplace practices perceived as fair. This means determining, what, exactly, employees regard as fair and how those perceptions influence their responses to various organizational practices.

Leaders can shape clear policies that highlight equitable strategies for allocating resources, plus fair processes and practices to underscore decision-making initiatives. Leaders are also responsible for getting employees involved in decision-making initiatives. This means actively seeking feedback and letting employees know that their insights are not only appreciated, but also, actively considered.

HR’s Critical Position in Upholding Justice Standards

Management professionals set the tone for successful justice initiatives, but human resources departments determine whether these efforts make a sufficient impact in the long run. HR professionals are heavily involved in developing and implementing justice-related policies and procedures, especially as they relate to hiring, onboarding, training, and performance management. These professionals may also implement monitoring strategies, which provide extensive oversight for organizational justice efforts and can reveal areas for improvement.

Implementing Organizational Justice in Your Organization

Understanding organizational justice is crucial. Even still, there is often a gap between recognizing the importance of employee perceptions and implementing policies and practices that enhance those perceptions. These suggestions should help:

Strategies for Enhancing Fairness in Decision-Making

To promote fairness in decision-making, clear criteria should be established. This should encompass the various factors considered and how these will be prioritized. Numerous perspectives should be built into this process, with open communication encouraged at all levels. This also encompasses reviews of the decision-making process and requests for feedback on how decisions are made.

Developing Transparent Communication Channels

Transparency is a critical component of organizational justice. Again, this is where clear decision-making criteria can be a game-changer. All employees should be aware of this criteria.

Furthermore, regular updates must be made, outlining not only what is to be decided, but also, which factors will be involved and current progress toward making specific decisions or implementing related strategies. Digital dashboards and collaboration platforms can enhance transparency, but consistency and accountability are also important.

The Impact of Organizational Justice on Workplace Outcomes

When businesses make a genuine effort to improve employee outcomes as they pursue organizational justice, the long-term benefits can be powerful. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the most compelling reasons to pursue organizational justice in the workplace:

Higher Job Satisfaction

When employees regard their workplaces as fair and equitable, they are more likely to also express satisfaction with their work and their workplaces. Research suggests that organizational justice (especially procedural) is closely linked to intrinsic motivation, which determines how fulfilled employees feel. Fulfillment can promote a number of positive outcomes, including greater engagement and productivity.

Increasing Trust in Organization and Leadership

Organizational justice facilitates trust. Simply put, employees are more likely to believe that their employers have their best interests at heart if those employers have a clear track record of allocating resources fairly and communicating respectfully. This ultimately promotes organizational trust, which is strongly linked not only to individual employee outcomes, but also, to organizational productivity.

Improved Employee Well-Being

Strong trust and satisfaction are crucial to achieving excellent employee well-being. This references how employees feel both physically and mentally; those with strong well-being are excited about their work and also have a positive self-perception. This limits burnout and can have positive ripple effects throughout the organization, such as enhanced innovation and better customer satisfaction.

Strengthen Employee Retention

Employees who regard their leaders and their organizations as fair are less likely to job hop. Today’s organizations are determined to retain the best and brightest professionals because they drive such powerful outcomes, and because the process of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding can prove so costly.

Creating a Positive Work Environment

The impact of organizational justice on individual employees is abundantly clear, but this can also extend to the workplace as a whole. Organizational justice promotes a positive atmosphere, in which employees feel valued while also exhibiting trust in leaders and coworkers. This influences many of the benefits highlighted above, including greater employee retention and well-being, along with fewer workplace conflicts and a greater willingness to collaborate.

Challenges in Achieving Organizational Justice

There is no easy way to achieve organizational justice, as this effort could call for significant changes in familiar policies and procedures. Efforts to elicit feedback can be time-consuming and may not lead to immediate improvements. These key challenges must be addressed to facilitate genuine progress:

Addressing Power Imbalances

Power imbalances grant certain professionals far more influence over decision-making processes than others. This can have a negative impact on procedural, informational, and interpersonal justice.

Furthermore, power imbalances lead to the concentration of resources, which stands in direct opposition to distributive justice. Limiting the effects of these imbalances may be difficult. However, transparency in decision-making can provide a strong start, as can efforts to seek input from employees at all levels.

Dealing with Resistance to Change

Arguably the greatest challenge in the fight for organizational justice comes from within as some management professionals may be reluctant to implement necessary changes. This reflects both comfort with the status quo, and concerns about costs, productivity, and more.

Future Trends in Organizational Justice

Currently, the most exciting trend in organizational justice centers around its rapid rise in popularity. This concept is finally getting the attention it has long deserved, and leaders beginning to realize just how powerful organizational justice can be. Now, it is necessary to bridge the gap between ambition and practice. These exciting trends may help:

Predicting Shifts in Organizational Justice Practices

Many recent shifts in organizational justice have been influenced by the rise of ethical and empathetic leadership styles. This approach strives for greater connection between leaders and employees, with the recognition that this connection will foster stronger collaboration and greater intrinsic motivation.

Regulatory developments should also have an impact. For example, equal pay initiatives and even minimum wage increases can play into perceptions of distributive justice. Meanwhile, anti-harassment laws and whistleblower protections bring greater transparency to critical business practices.

Technological Advancements and Their Impact on Organizational Justice

The most exciting trends of tomorrow may be driven by technological advancements, which promise to improve transparency and accountability. Data-driven solutions, in particular, hold huge promise. From feedback analysis to performance evaluations, a wealth of data can reveal what employees think and how they respond to various initiatives.

Integrating DEI Initiatives With Organizational Justice Efforts

Organizational justice and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) may not be one and the same, but they reflect similar priorities and can therefore be closely aligned.

DEI advocates for a greater range of perspectives to be represented within organizations, while also addressing biases and embracing differences. Organizational justice emphasizes transparency, regardless of employee characteristics.

DEI principles can be effectively integrated into decision-making policies and practices. Additionally, using DEI-related metrics for ongoing monitoring can enhance organizational justice.

The Significance of Inclusivity in Promoting Fairness

Workplaces cannot truly achieve fairness unless they are also inclusive. This ensures that all professionals enjoy access to critical resources and opportunities. Inclusivity also fosters a sense of belonging, which can play a powerful role in shaping interpersonal justice.

How Can Organizations Measure the Effectiveness of Their Justice Initiatives?

Lasting progress cannot be achieved without ongoing efforts to track organizational justice initiatives and adjust when needed. This begins with setting clear objectives and identifying metrics that highlight progress toward those objectives. Surveys and scales can bring structure to the process of evaluating organizational justice. Other impactful metrics include:

  • Employee retention and turnover
  • Grievance resolution speed
  • Pay equity analysis
  • Performance evaluations

What Are Common Misconceptions About Organizational Justice?

Many people mistakenly assume that organizational justice depends on human resources. Yes, HR is important, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. DEI departments increasingly influence organizational justice initiatives. However, it is ultimately up to executives to prioritize organizational justice and make these priorities known.

Another critical misconception to tackle is the assumption that organizational justice centers around pay or compensation. Yes, this plays into resource allocation, but far more is involved. As we’ve mentioned, interpersonal relationships and workplace transparency are also essential, as are fairness in decision-making processes.

Moving Toward a Culture of Organizational Justice With JWU

Are you passionate about organizational justice and eager to make your mark? The right graduate program will empower you to empower others. JWU offers multiple programs suited to the passionate leaders of tomorrow, including an online Master’s in Organizational Psychology and an online MBA in Organizational Psychology. Reach out today to learn more. 

For more information about completing your degree online, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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