Grievance Handling: Precautions and Prescriptions to HR Managers


By

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
Ex-Professor
Symbiosis (SCMHRD, SCDL), IIIT, SCMLD, SBS
Pune
 


Introduction

Maintaining quality of work life for its employees is an important concern for the any organisation. The grievance handling procedure of the organisation can affect the harmonious environment of the organisation.  The grievances of the employees are related to the contract, work rule or regulation, policy or procedure, health and safety regulation, past practice, changing the cultural norms unilaterally, individual victimization, wage, bonus, etc. Here, the attitude on the part of management in their effort to understand the problems of employees and resolve the issues amicably have better probability to maintain a culture of high performance. Managers must be educated about the importance of the grievance process and their role in maintaining favorable relations with the union. Effective grievance handling is an essential part of cultivating good employee relations and running a fair, successful, and productive workplace. Positive labor relations are two-way street both sides must give a little and try to work together. Relationship building is key to successful labor relations.

Precautions and Prescriptions

The management should take care of following aspects to develop a culture of trust and confidence upon the employees.

1. Always ensure that the managers involved in the grievance handling procedures have a quiet place to meet with the complainant.

2. Always ensure that managers have adequate time to be devoted to the complainant.

3. Explain manager's role, the policy and the procedures clearly in the grievance handling procedure.

4. Fully explaining the situation to the employee to eliminate any misunderstanding and promote better acceptance of the situation complained of.

5. Try to let employee present their issues without prejudging or commenting

6. Do use a positive, friendly ways to resolve the crisis than punitive steps, which disturb the system.

7. Do remain calm, cool, collected during the course of the meeting.

8. Always focus on the subject of the grievance than allied issues.

9. Don't make threats manage the grievances.

10. Never make use of allegations against personalities.

11. Be aware of the staff member's potential concerns to the possible repercussions of raising a grievance.

12. Don't become angry, belligerent, or hostile during grievance handling procedure.

13. Do listen for the main point of arguments and any possible avenue to resolve the grievance.

14. Listen and respond sensitively to any distress exhibited by the employees.

15. Eliminating the source of the irritation or discomfort being complained of.

16. Reassure them that the managers will be acting impartially and that your hope is to resolve the matter if possible.

17. Don't "horse trade" or swap one grievance for another (where the union wins one, management wins one). Each case should be decided on its merits.

18. Avoid usage of verbosisms like  "it will be taken care of."

19. Ensure effective, sensitive and confidential communication between all involved.

20. Take all possible steps to ensure that no victimization occurs as a result of the grievance being raised. 

21. The investigator or decision maker acts impartially, which means they must exclude themselves if there is any bias or conflict of interest.

22. All parties are heard and those who have had complaints made against others are given an opportunity to respond.

23. Try to look upon the problem on different angles for appropriate understanding.

24. Ensuring that there is proper investigation of the facts and figures related the problem under concern.

25. Consider all relevant information in the investigation process. 

26. Ask the staff member their preferred resolution option, although it is important to make it clear that this may not be a possible outcome.

27. Be aware of the limits of authority of the person who involved in the grievance handling procedures.

28. If the manager feels that he/she is not the appropriate person (senior manager) to deal with the issue refer the complainant to the appropriate person as soon as possible.

29. Try to get a better idea of whether the alleged discrimination or harassment happened or didn't happen.

30. Tell them exactly what they are supposed to have done, to whom and explain, why this may be seen as discrimination/harassment or as inappropriate.

31. Grievances are preferably to be settled informally at the level of the employee's immediate supervisor.

32. Try the level best to involve team members to resolve the crisis at unit level itself.

33. Avoid as far as possible the union involvement in conflict resolution situation process.

34. Follow documentation the procedures, of all necessary steps taken to resolve the problem/complaint.

Conclusion

To a great extend the aggravation of industrial problems depends on manager's approaches and attitude in effective handling of employees grievances. Care should be taken in the way managers approaches the problem and perceiving the pros and cons of the situation. The conflict management approaches include the win-win strategy that help in the healthy organisational practices and which reflects the strong organisational culture. The cooperation from both parties is the pre-requisite to handle the problem and effective settlement of the grievances. Conscious use of professional self can help managers in the conflict handling situations grievance redressal process.

References

1. European Trade Union Institute (1989) Collective Bargaining in Western Europe

2. Ozaki (1987), 'Labour Relations in the Public Service,' IL Review, July Aug.

3. Schregle J (1991)'Workers Participation in Decisions Within Undertaking'  IL Review Jan Feb.
 


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
Ex-Professor
Symbiosis (SCMHRD, SCDL), IIIT, SCMLD, SBS
Pune
 

Source: E-mail May 6, 2006

     

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