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Employment Frameworks: How to Deal with Workplace Grievances Effectively

Employees are a crucial asset to any organization and the employer. At times, despite the very best efforts of the organisation, some employees can become disappointed or upset about the actions of others at work.

When this happens, the employee must know how the right way to make the employer aware, and what the steps are that they should follow to enable their concerns to be properly understood and addressed. Unaddressed concerns or complaints generally don’t go away. They often either negatively taint the employees view of work and the organisation (and frequently vice versa in terms of how the employer and co-workers view the employee), but can also mean that the employee sees the only option being to leave the organisation to resolve the matter.

When dealing with employee complaints and grievances, there are some key things to consider as an employer to help bring these matters to the surface that can help in addressing these types of matters quickly and professionally.

Have a clear, simple and accessible complaints process

Effective complaints management starts with the obvious – there must be a clear complaints management process that employees know about and can easily (and anonymously) access.

Assistance and advice must be available and non-judgemental

Getting to the point where an employee is prepared to share their concerns with others is often difficult. When they have decided to take it further, they need to be able to discuss their concerns with an HR area or employee assistance provider that helps them work through their concerns, not dismiss them or discourage them out of hand.

Assess the facts – seek to understand what’s going on, not jump to a solution

The journey through the exploration of the employee’s complaint or grievance is often just as important as its resolution. Engage with the employee and explore the circumstances leading up to the complaint, to try to ensure that they have been given the opportunity to explain the situation from their perspective fully, that any situation specific (or potentially systemic) issues are brought to the surface, and that they are properly explore.

As part of the process, ask the complainant what they are looking to get from the process, or what a good outcome might look like. This helps the employer understand the intent of the complaint and take this into account in terms of next steps.

This does not mean that in all cases the complaint or grievance will be investigated further, it simply means that in all cases the issues raised by the employee will be carefully explored and considered. made the employee are genuine.

Make a decision on next steps – don’t just procrastinate!

Once the matters have been explored and better understood, the employer needs to make a quick decision on next steps, communicate the decision and take action. Even if the decision is to take no action, this needs to be communicated to the complainant and anyone else involved in the initial considerations, so that they know where the matter is at.

The Takeaway

Even in the best of environments, employees sometimes might raise a complaint or grievance. It is important that the employee complaint and grievance processes are well understood and communicated and addressed in a productive manner to maximise the productivity of both the employees involved and the organisation more generally.