Grievance Procedures for a Workplace: Do’s and Don’ts

When an employee is dissatisfied with their immediate work environment, they have the right to file a grievance with their supervisor or manager. A grievance may relate to the financial, social, physical and even emotional aspects of a position or workplace. Whether your employee is experiencing workplace bullying, issues with payroll or physical safety concerns, you must abide by your company’s approved grievance process.

 

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Common types of grievance procedures

Some of the most common types of grievance procedures include the following:

 

  • Individual grievances are when a single individual has a problem within the workplace.
  • A group of employees with similar complaints and experiences within the workplace file a group grievance.
  • Unions file a grievance when they believe rights are not being protected.
  • When an individual or union addresses the need to create a policy to protect workers or the failure to uphold an agreed-upon policy, they file policy grievances.

Your company should be prepared to handle any of these types of grievances. 

 

Related: Employee Evaluation Form

 

Best practices for managers

Here are some helpful approaches for you, your managers and supervisors to take regarding grievances from employees:

 

Provide all employees with an employee handbook

When you hire an employee, give them a copy of the employee handbook to review before officially starting in their position. Require all employees to sign a document stating that they have received the employee handbook and read through it. 

 

This helps in situations where an employee claims to not know the company rules or standards and gives them the opportunity to refer to the handbook at any time they find themselves confused about your company’s guidelines. Employee handbooks are great tools for managers and employees, and they set clear expectations for everyone in the company.

 

Conduct consistent meetings with employees throughout the year

The most important thing you can do to prevent employees from filing grievances is building a positive and professional relationship with each of them. Many grievances are filed after a pattern of consistent negative experiences or behaviors experienced or witnessed in the workplace. 

 

If you are meeting with employees weekly, monthly or even once per quarter, there is a greater chance that you will learn of potential grievances sooner, allowing you to address any issues before they progress further. The trust built as a result of these meetings can also decrease the likelihood of employees reporting grievances at all.

 

Hold all employees to the same standards

Standardizing your expectations for employees makes disciplinary procedures more simple and fair for everyone. Employees will feel like they are on the same level as their peers, and this reduces the chances of an employee filing a grievance based on managerial favoritism. Overall, this approach can promote a more positive, equal environment for all everyone in your company.

 

Keep documentation on employee performance, infractions and grievances

As a manager or supervisor, the best thing you can do is keep track of the performance, infractions and grievances of each of your employees. This will allow you to visualize the issues that may be occurring in your department and predict them before they reach an extreme point. 

 

For example, if an employee in your department has been reported for harassing their coworker, begin implementing a behavioral plan for the employee and track their progress over a period of time. In this situation, it would also be beneficial to continue to follow up with the employee who was harassed and provide any support needed during this time.

 

Offer frequent workplace training to managers and employees

While your employees may be skilled at their jobs, many factors contribute to the functioning of the workplace. Scheduling consistent workplace training to teach employees how to interact more positively or even build stronger relationships with one another will benefit entire departments. It may also help to schedule trainings that directly relate to your employees’ work responsibilities, which allows them to stay confident in their skills and may promote growth in their roles.

 

When employees feel a connection to their supervisors and peers, the morale of the department increases and dissatisfaction among coworkers decreases.

 

Related: How to Manage Employees

 

FAQs about grievance procedures

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions concerning grievance procedures and how to handle them:

 

Why is a grievance procedure necessary?

A grievance procedure may be necessary because it explains an employee’s rights in detail and allows them the chance to express their workplace concerns with their manager. Ultimately, the procedure allows all employees the opportunity to maintain a safe and collaborative workplace.

 

Can a grievance be raised verbally?

An employee can raise a grievance verbally or in writing, though the preferred method is often through writing. If an employee approaches you about a grievance, formally document their complaint and keep a record of actions taken. This shows the employee that you are taking their grievances seriously and may prevent any confusion that could occur if the issue persists in the future.

 

Where do employees file grievances?

Grievances are usually filed with an employee’s immediate supervisor. However, if the issue pertains to the relationship or interactions between an employee and their immediate supervisor, the employee may file their grievance with another supervisor within the company. Allowing for this alternative process in your company can help employees feel free to voice their opinions in a safe environment.

 

Can a grievance lead to disciplinary action?

Rather than punishing an employee for filing a grievance, it’s always preferable to reassure them that you understand their concerns and will work to solve them. One of the only times a grievance may lead to disciplinary action is when an employee files a grievance against another coworker. If that coworker continues to act in an undesirable or unethical manner, it may be necessary to provide them with a warning or suspension.

 

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