Play Ball! When Playing Fair Raises Your Revenue

Play Ball! When Playing Fair Raises Your Revenue

As kids, we wanted everything to be fair. Our view was narrow: Fair for me, fair for my friends. Our world was limited to the school playground. We learned “good sportsmanship”, with values like:

  • Follow the rules
  • Don’t be mean
  • Give everyone a fair chance to play
  • Help others improve to make the team stronger
  • Respect your team members, your coaches and the other team
  • And never, ever be a “cheaterpants”

Amazingly, it turns out that in business, those childhood values can increase revenue. In fact, our research has shown that these values matter so much that a company can increase revenue by raising their internal level of fairness in the workplace.

How much does revenue increase? We found that for every “Fairness for All” point gained on Great Place to Work’s Trust Index© Survey (see stats section below), the company revenue goes up .13% - .57%*. According to Ed Frauenheim, Director of Research and Content at Great Place to Work, “In studying the 2017 100 Best and the non-winning contender companies, we found that the more consistent and inclusive organizations are on key factors related to trust in the workplace, the more likely the organization is to outperform peers in revenue growth. In particular, companies in the top quartile on these metrics enjoy three times the revenue growth of companies in the bottom quartile.”

infographic MedianRevGrowthgb 2017 Li 698x400 nologo

It makes sense. Using the sports team analogy, athletes can’t play well if they are looking over their shoulders to see if teammates are going to cheat or undermine their performance. However, on successful teams, there is an inherent sense of trust at play: I know you have my back; and you know I have yours. Everyone is supported as they strive to succeed – resulting in a stronger team, and stronger performance overall.

In the workplace, when employees, managers and executives all trust the entire company is fair, it takes the brakes off their performance. Employees in a “GPTW4ALL” company can put their energy into growing their company, rather than protecting themselves.

So how do you know how fair your company is?

Companies are trackable social organisms, just like sports teams. The best teams keep a close eye on their stats. At Great Place to Work, we help companies track department and company-wide statistics on areas like fairness and trust in the workplace using our Trust Index© Survey. Collecting these stats lets a company know what issues need to be addressed and what strategies are working well.

Just like any sport, tracking these important metrics year after year helps us know which companies are the fairest of them all, and how they perform in the market. The Fairness for All stats are clear. Fairness for All works.

And the benefits of playing fair go beyond the workplace. Remember the stress of playing against sports teams that were unfair, sneaky or just plain “cheaterpants”? When a terrific game turned into an ordeal? It even affects the game watchers. When a team or an umpire is not doing the right thing, we know. It changes our relationship to watching that game. Similarly, when B2C workplace cultures reflect fairness and trust, the customers gain.

Too often the news highlights businesses that take shortcuts and even act unethically to profit at the expense of others. While it might be a gripping news story, it’s not good business. These businesses may generate short-term gains, just like the playground bullies we saw in those early kickball games. But our research shows they lose out in the long-term.

Let’s bring back good sportsmanship and fairness in the business world using those childhood playground ethics. Our rewards are that we get to enjoy where we work, and we make more money doing it.

Fairness for All counts. And better yet, unlike in sports — we can all win.


Stats and Methodology

Without adjusting for size, each 1 point increase in gptw4all score is associated with a .35% increase in revenue growth. After taking size into account, each 1 point increase in gptw4all is associated with a .32% increase in revenue growth. The MOE (95% confidence level) for both is .22, so we are 95% confident that each point increase in gptw4all is associated with a .13% - .57% increase in revenue growth, or .1% - .54% revenue growth after accounting for size.

Cheral Stewart

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