No matter how efficient you are in managing your business or employees, it’s common to overlook or sideline few of the issues, especially if the impact and severity are not that high. Although smart entrepreneurs always prefer to ‘macro’ manage their business, sometimes the on-going issues can grow into a concern which takes a lot of your precious time, efforts or even financial losses. Workplace ‘conflicts’ are common yet continues to be a ‘pain-area’ for the employers. This post primarily revolves around picking out the basic reasons of grievances in a business along with understanding the need to have a policy and suggesting you the best ways to manage staff grievances and maximize employee satisfaction at your workplace.
Going by the English dictionary, ‘grievance’ means a complaint reported in a professional environment which has resulted due to any biased decisions, unfair treatment or irregular activities within the business. Employee grievance is one of the many aspects of personnel management and therefore, today’s businesses need to have a systematic approach towards managing the grievances from staffs and provide an amicable solution which is agreeable to everyone. Before defining the possible ways to manage grievances at a workplace, below are some of the key benefits of having a grievance policy are:
Managing employee relations:
One of the prime reasons of employee unrest is ‘uneven’ relation with the management/employer. Employers need to deploy a mechanism which is transparent and unbiased, which assists the employees to connect with the management in case of help. Developing the ‘management-employee’ bond ideally helps you to erase the level of dissatisfaction. Adequate training needs to be imparted to employees explaining and presenting the grievance system in your organization and also encourage them to use it.
Superiors managing the staffs have to be extra cautious whenever something is reported and are supposed to work as per the set guidelines and should effectively manage the situation in a timely manner.
This will lower the detrimental effects of grievance on the employees and their performance, alongside creating a positive environment.
It’s always a good idea to have an informal discussion with the employee who is going through an ‘on-going’ problem before the grievance is officially recorded. Often people like to talk in a one-to-one environment, and it can be the perfect opportunity to resolve the differences. The superior plays a vital role as he’s the one who initiates the talk, has to listen and finally give a genuine assurance, if not a resolution for that matter. The intent should be positive, backed by sound people management skills. The primary objective is to understand the core issue and empathize accordingly, a solution is secondary.
If the issue is related to another employee, the superior can sit along with them and make a true effort to rectify the differences and make sure both the parties mutually agree to the decision which pulls them from officially documenting the grievance.
Many a time it’s just the difference between opinions and minor confusions which lead to an issue.
Getting honest feedbacks on various aspects of the business can act as a strong deterrent to managing grievances. Regular interactions with the line managers, online portals, surveys, open forums, or skip-level meetings are some of the ways you can analyze the mental state of your employees. These are not a one-time activity and therefore you have to be pushy for engaging your managers in these ‘unproductive’ activities to get the optimum results.
Periodic surveys and confidential feedbacks reflect the confidence of your staffs towards the management as well as the policies. The analysis of the measures taken also holds key to success.
If you notice any discrepancy or uneven responses over a continued period, diving deep can help you to resolve the grievances in a timely manner. Keeping a handbook that supports the resolution of grievances arising in your premises is also an ideal way to resolve conflicts which get noticed by initiating these surveys and feedbacks.
Proper evaluation and segregation:
Employers and organizations often make a mistake of mixing all the issues under one category. You need to understand that every individual is different and so are their grievances! Putting all the issues in a single basket makes it difficult to find legitimate resolutions which lead to employee dissatisfaction and loss of confidence.
Acknowledging and parking the issue as per criticality and priority is a major step, which is skipped by the employers in the absence of a grievance mechanism in place.
In a professional environment, grievances can be broadly segregated under the below heads-
- Organizational policies
- Employee relations
- Compensation and benefits
This is where the Human Resource department plays a pivotal role in managing the staff. The line managers or the superior’s people-management skills are also important as they are the 1st point of contact for the employees and hence it’s their responsibility to understand the nature of the grievance and determine a suitable resolution path. (Discussion/mediation/informal communication/processing the issue with HR)
Last but not the least, if a genuine grievance is raised, employers should go through a transparent process in providing a fair judgement. Once an employee reports an issue with the management, everyone is anxious to know the outcome. Treating an issue according to its merit allows the employer to prove themselves in front of the staff.
A decorated judgement is manageable for petty issues, however for grievances which affect a large majority or an issue which can impact the business has to be resolved with utmost sincerity and transparently.
Dividing the entire process into stages – investigation, outcome, and appeal and assigning the stages to different people ensures a fair and transparent resolution. It’s also advisable to define SLA’s and complete the process within a stipulated time frame. In addition, the entire process should be documented mentioning details of the investigation, as it can help you in resolving future disputes which would be similar in nature.
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