“The Impact of Perceived Fairness in the Workplace” with Dr. Kimberly Bates, Assistant Professor of Accounting

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In light of the recent phenomenon known as "quiet-quitting" wherein employees resolve to do the bare-minimum required by their job description, Dr. Kimberly Bates hosted a Friday Symposium discussing her research conducted on the impact of perceived fairness in the workplace.

Dr. Bates currently serves as an Assistant Accounting Professor and as an Undergraduate and Graduate Advisor to accounting students at DBU. Her achievements in the business world are extensive and thorough. Her management experience includes multiple industries where she has served as Accounting Manager of cityCore, Assistant Controller and Executive Management Committee Member at a manufacturing company, and as a Professional Accountant for Fortune 500 C-Corp, S-Corp, and nonprofits.

"Research has shown that people will give up their own money and time just to make sure that they are treated fairly from a moral standpoint," shared Dr. Bates.

"If you are treated fairly, research has shown you are generally more satisfied with your job, are more committed to your job, tend to carry out more above-and-beyond actions formally known as Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB's), have better health, have better guest services, and attain better work performance."

Through external surveys and her research conducted on justice in the workplace, Dr. Bates has found that the antidote to quiet-quitting is essentially to assure that employees perceive that they are being treated fairly. A study done by Gallup concluded that over 50% of employees say they are doing the bare-minimum at work. This was not because of pay or position, but because of how they were being treated by their superiors.

Some practical ways to remedy quiet-quitting include superiors having intentional conversations with their workers, asking what the company could do for their employees, and giving opportunities for flexibility while also presenting clearly-defined timelines.

Another factor that impacts an employee's idea of perceived fairness in the workplace is known as the Social Exchange Theory.

"Imagine that you hear your friend is upset and you decide to run to their house, bring them ice cream, and check on them. When you're upset down the line, you're going to be mad if they don't do the same," Dr. Bates said. "That's Social Exchange; it's not required, but it's assumed."

The Social Exchange Theory works in both negative and positive situations and occurs over time. "If your organization is treating you fairly, you will begin to reciprocate. It's a cycle."

In light of fraud, Dr. Bates has pioneered research conducted on the link between organizational justice and unethical pro-organizational behavior.

"Organizational justice—'we are treated fairly'—leads to organizational identification— 'I love my company, I feel like I am a part of my company, I am my company'— which may lead to unethical pro-organizational behavior of earnings management (preparing false financial statements)," Dr. Bates shared. She and her committee members were the first researchers to discover this connection.

Across the board, Dr. Bates is certain of this: "All of this stems from being treated fairly." Dr. Bates presented a quote from the Denison Forum which stated "The more we work for someone we value, the more we work."

As she explored both an academic and Biblical approach to conducting business, Dr. Bates ultimately concluded that having a people-approach to business is best because "God wired us to desire relationships with people," she said. "We must account for this in the workplace."

Dr. Bates holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration, a Master's in Public Accounting, and a Bachelor of Business Administration – all from University of Texas at Arlington. Additionally, she is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Texas Society for CPAs and the American Accounting Association. She has taught as an Accounting Professor for the past 10 years, first at Tarrant County College and now at Dallas Baptist University.

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.