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I run a small company that has been successful and expanding for over 4 years. I have 3 permanent employees.

One of them is the real deal you want in an employee - takes the initiative, works hard, dedicated; you name it, he's got it. It's no surprise he became the de facto manager and my favorite.

As part of this years incentives and rewards for my workers, I've ordered official cars. However, although unintentional (dealer discount), one of the cars is much better than the others and I want him to have it, but I don't want the others to be offended (1 actually started work earlier than him) as they also work hard, he's just better.

Is there any smart way around this or should I just man up and damn the consequences?

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  • Do the other two recognize that he's the "real deal" or do they think they're just as good? Dec 13, 2017 at 0:24

4 Answers 4

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Honestly, favoritism in a professional environment can go two ways. One, the employees might take it positively and may get motivated to work harder and with better efficiency, with an expectation of similar perks for the firm. On the other hand, they might consider this as partiality and loose the interest to work. The worst that can happen in this case is that they might resign (if you're okay with that).

A solution to this problem can be offering the better employee a promotion and as a perk, offer him the better car. It would look like he got the better car because of the promotion and not because of favoritism. Offer the other low-end cars to the other employees.

I think this is the only way in which you can give the better car to your 'favorite' employee without causing any awkwardness in the office.

Source: Personal experience.

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  • I think your promotion idea is not too bad. I think I'll officially promote him to the role of manager. I can't return the car as some have suggested, and I can't rotate usage as I intend to transfer ownership permanently to them after some time. Thanks.
    – haxkalibrr
    Dec 13, 2017 at 7:40
  • Rotate would be a clean car issue.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 13, 2017 at 14:17
  • The car-rotation option is also good, but the only drawback with it is that technically, you wouldn't be rewarding the employees. You would be just offering them a service. It would feel too official while using the cars. For example, even if you tell them to use it for personal needs, the employees will avoid doing so as it is still an "Office Vehicle" and not a "Personal Vehicle".
    – user80836
    Dec 13, 2017 at 14:32
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Is there any smart way around this or should I just man up and damn the consequences?

I know you said you want to give this one to him, but you can try rotating the use of the vehicles, so everyone has chance to use the better model. This way there is no favoritism at all.

I personally would go for something like that, as I think that giving that car just to him may indeed be seen as favoritism even if you disguise it well.

If you really want to give the car to him, you can make some sort of "contest" or similar, where your Ace employee would surely outstand. This way it is a fair competition (motivating the other employees to improve) and definitely not something that can be seen as favoritism.

You could also just sort at random the cars, that would surely be completely unbiased, if you don't mind doing it.

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Have you asked if your employee (the one in question) actually prefers one car over the other? If the counterparties in this case, don't really have a preference and this is a situation where the employer wants to reward its employees, the gesture would be lost if the counterparties well... for a lack of a better word... don't care.

Another thing, your title states "Sharing official cars without favoritism" yet you say "one of the cars is much better than the others and I want him to have it, but I don't want the others to be offended". Your intentions don't match your well... intentions. If you want to make it totally unbiased, draw straws or something...Roll a die... flip a coin... use an random number generator... pick a key from a hat.

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You say it was unintentional but clearly the implication of giving a good car to better performing employee would be seen as intentional. There are two ways to go about it I think;

  1. Make the gifts equal as per your original intention. You can do this by either returning one of the car or adding some additional accessories to the second car. Whether your budget allows that or not is something you need to decide but this will make it simple for everyone.

Edit: Below point would be applicable more if it is larger company (as pointed out in comments) and not in your case where you have any 4 employees including you. However, you can consider this when your company grows

  1. Now if you have changed your mind and if you do intend to differentiate in the gifts based on performance, then I do not think then just giving away the better car to better employee is the right way to go about it. You need to make it an official policy and may be even name the gifts/awards which reflects both the performance and the value. Then they just know that it is the official and transparent company policy and nothing to do with favouritism. You can make an announcement something like:
    "This year's Golden award goes to employee X for his amazing and excellent contribution on ... and this years's Silver award goes to employee Y for their great work on ....."
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  • I don't think it's a good idea to publicly grade all of his 3 employees the way you suggest. Sure for a bigger company but not for a 4 men shop
    – Rémi
    Dec 13, 2017 at 13:32
  • @Rémi I missed first line where he said he has only 3 employees! So I agree. In any case, I did not mean to publicly "grade" them, just categorize the awards and give out award in each category.
    – PagMax
    Dec 13, 2017 at 13:35
  • Yeah I tough your idea was not to say "you're #1, you're #2 and you my sir are last" but with such a small company it's the same
    – Rémi
    Dec 13, 2017 at 13:56

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