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What is Employee Grievance Management and how to handle it?

As a Human Resource (HR) department, it becomes a hassle to deal with employee grievances in an organization. The grievances may be genuine or sometimes illusory to the employees who feel dissatisfied with their job or the management.

If not managed on time, it can decrease employee morale, create inefficiency and increase absenteeism. In short, the ability to handle the grievances of employees can directly impact overall productivity at work.

Definition of Employee Grievance

Employee grievance is defined as dissatisfaction or discontentment that disturbs an employee at work. It may or may not be justified but needs to be tackled very carefully. It is a feeling of injustice experienced by an employee that adversely affects organizational relations and productivity.

According to Michael Jucious, ‘grievance is any discontent or dissatisfaction whether expressed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair, unjust or inequitable.

What causes Employee Grievances:

  • Wages or Salary (Employee feels he gets less pay)
  • Work environment
  • Undesirable working hours
  • Changes without prior notice.
  • Poor employee-manager relationship
  • Dissatisfactory company policies concerning:
    • Promotion
    • Leave
    • Transfer
    • Discharge
    • Overtime
  • Violation of laws
  • Inadequate health and safety amenities
  • Specific incidences at work

6 Most Effective Ways To Handle Employee Grievances:

  1. Create a process or a System: The very first thing is to set up the grievance management system even before encountering such issues for your company to help your employees lodge complaints and grievances so that you can resolve them. You must implement an online grievance management portal and add an employee handbook to the same so it is accessible to every employee all the time. The portal should give you grievance receipts and you must ensure the employees’ complaints are placed in confidence.
  2. Acknowledge: Your employees should know that you care about them and thus you must acknowledge their complaint right after receiving one. It doesn’t mean you should resolve immediately but they should know it is in the process and you are willing to do something about it.
  3. Investigate: Not all issues need major action but surely they need your hearing. After knowing about an issue faced by the employee, it is essential to investigate and validate before taking any further action. It may not always be necessary but if the matter involves other staff, they will need to be informed and given a chance to explain themselves and put forward their shreds of evidence. Once the investigation is over, you can arrange a formal meeting.
  4. Hold a formal meeting: The employee grievances must be discussed formally after validation to take adequate action. The employee with the grievance and all the relevant colleagues should be called to be present in the formal discussion. The employee can put forward any evidence that backs up the complaint and explain how they would like the problem to be resolved. Later on, you should circulate the minutes of the meeting notes via the employee grievance portal.
  5. Review and take action accordingly: It’s always better to have a look back at the decisions taken in the formal meeting. If the employee is happy with the resolution, you were good at settling the issue. In fact, it can prove significant to your company culture. If the policy ensures justice, it can create a sense of pride and accountability in the employees’ work. That’s the benefit of implementing a fast and effective grievance procedure. An action must be taken after the final review, it is the decision-making time so you must ensure that you have collected all the concerning information and have closely reviewed the situation, and act accordingly.
  6. Identify the main cause of the issue: Your aim is not to create a temporary solution but long-lasting solutions for a particular issue. This prevents employees from coming back for the same issue. You must identify the root cause of the problem even if it is time-taking.

Bottom line: A successful employee grievance management process needs the willingness to help your employees. It needs proper records, information, and sufficient insights. A manual process cannot help much. A dedicated employee grievance management portal is the answer to all your issues and manages them for you. It brings automation to the process mentioned above. However, some exceptional circumstances might arise when the process mentioned above needs to be modified for the better. The Human Resource Department reserves the right to revise the same as necessary and appropriate.


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