According to the theory of relative deprivation, a sense of injustice is aroused when individuals come to believe that their outcome is not in balance with the outcomes received by people like them in similar situations. When people have a sense that they are at an unfair disadvantage relative to others, or that they have not received their fair share, they may wish to challenge the system that has given rise to this state of affairs. This is especially likely to happen if a person or groups’ fundamental needs are not being met, or if there are large discrepancies between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
Procedural justice is the way in which people are promoted and receive awards within an organization. This type of justice deals with determining the integrity of the human resource functions in order to justify their outcomes. Procedural justice is present within an organization when the processes, by which organizational subjects are; hired, paid, and promoted are perceived to be fair.
Interpersonal justice deals with the social relationships within an organization. This type of justice is more qualitative, and difficult to quantify. Justice is determined upon the presence of healthy and positive relationships within an organization. Interpersonal aspects of justice are quintessential due to the critical role relationships play in managing work and life outside of work. Most people find relationships to be what matters most in life and what gives life its fullest purpose as they fulfill our need to belong and help us to define ourselves. Relationships have also been explored as a source of social support in managing work-nonworking demands and are implicitly the source of role demands “both directly affecting work-nonworking conflicts.
Centrality of relationships in the work-nonworking arena also suggests the importance of understanding the interpersonal aspects of distributive and procedural justice. Namely, even if decision makers make their decisions affecting others’ workplace flexibility as representatives of an organization (and even more so if they make those decisions on their own behalf in informal interactions), the judgment is likely made about their fairness and the fairness of the relationship with them, not just the fairness of the organization or the policies they are applying. Similarly, those using workplace flexibility are targets of fairness assessments. People are motivated to act fairly, either in order to avoid negative feelings such as anger and distress or to preserve foundations on which they can count to be treated fairly themselves. Thus, if people are perceived as unfair when using formal policies or when enacting informal flexibility, they are going to be reluctant to do so in the future.
Overall, fairness is essential for maintaining satisfying relationships within which enactment of workplace flexibility takes place. It is therefore important to understand what shapes fairness judgments within relationships and how these judgments affect interpersonal dynamics, which in turn shape further enactment of workplace flexibility and experience of work-nonworking conflict.