It may be any genuine or imaginary feeling of dissatisfaction or injustice which an employee experiences about his job and it‘s nature, about the management policies and procedures.
It must be expressed by the employee and brought to the notice of the management and the organization. Grievances take the form of collective disputes when they are not resolved. Also they will then lower the morale and efficiency of the employees. Unattended grievances result in frustration, dissatisfaction, low productivity, lack of interest in work, absenteeism, etc. In short, grievance arises when employees‘ expectations are not fulfilled from the organization as a result of which a feeling of discontentment and dissatisfaction arises. This dissatisfaction must crop up from employment issues and not from personal issues.
1 Grievance may result from the following factors-
2 Objectives of Grievance Handling Procedure
3 Benefits of Grievance Handling Procedure
4 four stages of the machinery
5 Methods of Identifying Grievances
6 The following steps provide a measure of guidance to the manager dealing with grievances
1Grievance may result from the following factors-
a. Improper working conditions such as strict production standards, unsafe workplace, bad relation with managers, etc.
b. Irrational management policies such as overtime, transfers, demotions, inappropriate salary structure, etc.
c. Violation of organizational rules and practices
The manager should immediately identify all grievances and must take appropriate steps to eliminate the causes of such grievances so that the employees remain loyal and committed to their work. Effective grievance management is an essential part of personnel management. The managers should adopt the following approach to manage grievance effectively-
1. Quick action- As soon as the grievance arises, it should be identified and resolved. Training must be given to the managers to effectively and timely manage a grievance. This will lower the detrimental effects of grievance on the employees and their performance.
2. Acknowledging grievance- The manager must acknowledge the grievance put forward by the employee as manifestation of true and real feelings of the employees. Acknowledgement by the manager implies that the manager is eager to look into the complaint impartially and without any bias. This will create a conducive work environment with instances of grievance reduced.
3. Gathering facts- The managers should gather appropriate and sufficient facts explaining the grievance‘s nature. A record of such facts must be maintained so that these can be used in later stage of grievance redressal.
4. Examining the causes of grievance- The actual cause of grievance should be identified. Accordingly remedial actions should be taken to prevent repetition of the grievance.
5. Decisioning- After identifying the causes of grievance, alternative course of actions should be thought of to manage the grievance. The effect of each course of action on the existing and future management policies and procedure should be analyzed and accordingly decision should be taken by the manager.
6. Execution and review- The manager should execute the decision quickly, ignoring the fact, that it may or may not hurt the employees concerned. After implementing the decision, a follow-up must be there to ensure that the grievance has been resolved completely and adequately.
An effective grievance procedure ensures an amiable work environment because it redresses the grievance to mutual satisfaction of both the employees and the managers. It also helps the management to frame policies and procedures acceptable to the employees. It becomes an effective medium for the employees to express t feelings, discontent and dissatisfaction openly and formally.
2 Objectives of Grievance Handling Procedure:
Objectives of the grievance handling procedure are as follows:
1. To enable the employee to air their grievance
2. To clarify the nature of the grievance
3. To investigate the reasons for dissatisfaction
4. To obtain, where possible, a speedy resolution to the problem
5. To take appropriate actions and ensure that promises are kept
6. To inform the employee of their right to take the grievance to the next stage of the procedure, in the event of an unsuccessful resolution
3 Benefits of Grievance Handling Procedure:
Benefits that accrue to both the employer and employees are as follows:
1. It encourages employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisal.
2. It provides a fair and speedy means of dealing with complaints.
3. It prevents minor disagreements developing into more serious disputes.
4. It serves as an outlet for employee frustrations and discontents.
5. It saves employer‘s time and money as solutions are found for workplace problems. It helps to build an organizational climate based on openness and trust.
Details of a grievance procedure/machinery may vary from organization to organization.
4 The four stages of the machinery are briefly discussed here:
1. Initial level at which grievance occurs:
The greatest opportunity to redress a grievance is to resolve it at the initial level at which it occurs.
A worker‘s grievance should be resolved by their immediate boss, the first-line supervisor. The first stage of the procedure usually involves three persons—the aggrieved employee, his immediate boss and the union representative.
It is possible to involve the union in laying down the framework of the grievance procedure and thereafter restrain union involvement in the actual process, at least in the first two stages. Supervisory role needs to be strengthened, with appropriate training in problem-solving skills, grievance handling, and counselling.
2. Intermediate stage:
If the dispute is not redressed at the initial state at supervisor‘s level, it is usually referred to the head of the concerned department. It is important that the management assumes prime responsibility for the settlement of a grievance. At the intermediate level, grievance can be settled with or without union involvement.
3. Organization level:
If a grievance is not settled at the intermediate level also, it can be referred to the top management. Usually, a person of a level not less than the general manager designated for the purpose directly handles the issue. At this level, it is very difficult to reconcile the conflicting interests.
4. Third-party mediation:
If the grievance has not been settled bilaterally within the organization, it goes to a third party for mediation. Arbitration or adjudication or the matter may even be referred to a labour court. At this stage, the parties concerned lose control over the way the grievance is settled.
In case of mediation (conciliation or arbitration), the mediator has no authority to decide, but in case of the labour court or an adjudicator, the decision will be binding on the parties, subject to statutory provisions for appeal to higher courts.
At any stage of the grievance machinery, the dispute must be handled by some members of the management. In grievance redressal, responsibility lies largely with the management. And, as already discussed, grievances should be settled promptly at the first stage itself.
5 Methods of Identifying Grievances
The following methods can help the employer to identify the grievances:
1. Directive observation:
Knowledge of human behaviour is requisite quality of every good manager. From the changed behaviour of employees, he should be able to snuff the causes of grievances. This he can do without its knowledge to the employee. This method will give general pattern of grievances. In addition to normal routine, periodic interviews with the employees, group meetings and collective bargaining are the specific occasions where direct observation can help in unfolding the grievances.
2. Grip boxes:
The boxes (like suggestion boxes) are placed at easily accessible spots to most employees in the organisation. The employees can file anonymous complaints about their dissatisfaction in these boxes. Due to anonymity, the fear of managerial action is avoided. Moreover management‘s interest is also limited to the free and fair views of employees.
3. Open door policy:
Most democratic by nature, the policy is preached most but practiced very rarely in Indian organizations. But this method will be more useful in absence of an effective grievance procedure, otherwise the organisation will do well to have a grievance procedure. Open door policy demands that the employees, even at the lowest rank, should have easy access to the chief executive to get his grievances redressed.
4. Exit interview:
Higher employee turnover is a problem of every organisation. Employees leave the organisation either due to dissatisfaction or for better prospects. Exit interviews may be conducted to know the reasons for leaving the job. Properly conducted exit interviews can provide significant information about the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and can pave way for further improving the management policies for its labour force.
6 The following steps provide a measure of guidance to the manager dealing with grievances:
1. Acknowledge dissatisfaction:
Managerial/supervisory attitude to grievances is important. They should focus attention on grievances, and not turn away from them. Ignorance is not bliss; it is the bane of industrial conflict. Arrogant attitude on the part of supervisors and managers aggravates the problem.
2. Define the problem:
Instead of trying to deal with a vague feeling of discontent, the problem should be defined properly. Sometime the wrong complaint is given. By effective listening, one can make sure that a true complaint is voiced.
3. Get the facts:
Facts should be separated from fiction. Although grievances result in hurt feelings, the effort should be to get the facts behind the feelings. There is need for a proper record of each grievance.
4. Analyse and decide:
Decisions on each grievance will have a precedent effect. While no time should be lost in dealing with them, it is no excuse to be slipshod about it. Grievance settlements provide opportunities for managements to correct themselves, and thereby come closer to the employees. Horse-trading in grievance redressal due to union pressures may temporarily bring union leadership closer to the management, but it will surely alienate the workforce away from the management.
5. Follow up:
Decisions taken must be followed up earnestly. They should be promptly communicated to the concerned employee. If a decision is favourable to the employee, their immediate boss should have the privilege of communicating the same.