Some experts think awarding favorite status – for the right reasons – can be an effective management tool.

“I am a big believer in the concept of playing favorites. However, you have to be absolutely clear on how anyone can qualify to become a favorite,” said Jill Geisler, author of “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know” and head of The Poynter Institute’s Leadership and Management programs.

“(Managers can say), here are the things I believe in. I believe in high performance, collegiality, good workplace citizenship, and those of you who qualify under those qualities are the most likely to be my favorites.”

The rewards that come with such status might be desirable assignments, a better schedule, travel opportunities and more time and attention from the boss, Geisler said. At the same time, employees must know that they won’t be anointed a favorite in perpetuity, only for as long as they meet the criteria, she added.

One new study finds that workers feel better about themselves, are more willing to go above and beyond and are less likely to break the rules when they feel they are receiving preferential treatment from their manager.