Establishing an Effective Grievance Process

grievance process

When workers feel they have a legitimate complaint about a coworker or their employer, many companies have an established grievance process to handle such situations. Once they file a formal complaint, an investigator takes over to determine its validity. By setting up a grievance process at work, organizations can have transparent procedures that provide employees with an atmosphere of trust. They feel free to outline concerns without fear of blowback.

What is a Grievance Process?

A grievance is a formal complaint filed by a worker when they feel there are violations of established company policies. A grievance process offers a track for employers and workers to resolve disputes internally. Establishing a grievance process at work may be part of the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

The rules and procedures that make up a grievance process vary from one company to another. Some companies spell out the details in an employee’s contract. An employee or the company can use the documentation, or lack thereof, of a grievance if the issue results in legal action.

What Are Some Examples of Grievances?

filing a grievance complaint

Issues that often drive employees to go through the grievance process at work include:

Individual complaints

If one employee experiences a problem within the workplace, like the distribution of their pay or allotted benefits, they may decide to file a grievance. Other issues individual employees might run into include:

  • Unusually heavy workload
  • Bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Unclear promotion process
  • Favoritism of other employees

Group complaints

Sometimes, many employees with similar experiences come together to file a complaint. Issues that can affect multiple people in the workplace include:

  • Gender pay disparity
  • Issues with scheduling
  • Changes within the organization

Union complaints

A union might file a grievance on behalf of workers when they believe that worker rights are being compromised. For example, an employer failing to deduct union dues from a worker’s paycheck could lead to a union grievance.

Policy complaints

If one or more workers feel that there needs to be changes to a current policy or feel the company should establish certain protections, they may file a policy grievance. Other examples of policy grievances include:

  • Poor working conditions
  • Issues with workplace health
  • Safety problems

Employers should have procedures in place capable of handling multiple types of grievances.

What are the Benefits of an Established Grievance Process?

Establishing a grievance process allows employees to take issue with management decisions that adversely affect them. In addition, workers get the chance to outline their concerns formally. Once that happens, management can step in and resolve issues quickly, fairly, and with complete transparency.

Other benefits of having formal grievance steps outlined include:

  • Not letting smaller disagreements balloon into serious issues
  • Helps companies build an environment of trust and openness
  • Gives employees validation that their concerns matter
  • Encourages companies to create clear policies and contracts
  • Provides organizations with a cost-effective way to resolve workplace disputes without litigation

What Actions Should a Grievance Process Contain?

grievance policy

While there may be variations in how different organizations establish grievance procedures, there should be similarities in how they handle issues that arise in the workplace. Below is an outline to turn into a grievance process flowchart as a starting point.

1. Meet with a supervisor

Encourage workers to sit down with a supervisor or other management. Sometimes all it takes is having someone listen to an employee's concerns to start the resolution process. An example of that might be if an employee feels that they were passed over for a promotion.

Managers can point out the specific requirements for the position and outline what the worker can do to move up in the organization. Actively listening to an employee and acknowledging their feelings is essential in the grievance process.

2. File a grievance in writing

Develop a grievance form for all employees and make it easily accessible to everyone. It’s also a good idea for workers to send an email outlining the grievance. In addition, encourage those going through the grievance process to provide details like names and dates.

3. Review the grievance

At this point, it’s a good idea to bring the human resources department into the matter. If you have a unionized workplace, make sure you’ve contacted the worker’s union representative. Start going over the issues outlined in the grievance to figure out the next steps.

4. Conduct an investigation

A formal grievance investigation should include an interview with the employee and others involved in the conflict. Pull together supporting evidence that helps you develop a resolution, like emails or testimony from witnesses. To help maintain impartiality, many companies bring in an independent investigator with no connection to the company.

5. Resolve the grievance

After talking with the employee and reviewing the evidence, the investigator and anyone else involved in the review should write a formal conclusion. Provide the worker with the response and the actions the company will take.

If the employee doesn’t find the outcome satisfactory, an organization can bring in a mediator. Make sure you outline employees' rights as far as appealing grievance process decisions in your company policies.

Handling the Grievance Process Through Automation

One way to ensure that your company properly executes each step in your grievance process is by setting up an automated workflow to handle different procedures. For example, you can automatically send a grievance submitted by the employee to their manager and HR to ensure it gets an immediate review. If an employee disagrees with a decision, your automated workflow should automatically kick off an appeal process.

Integrify makes it possible for organizations to efficiently handle employee grievances. Contact one of our representatives for a demonstration of how our platform can transform your company.

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