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Five steps to use to conduct a grievance procedure in your company

by , 25 July 2013
In-house conflicts can easily get out of hand. That's why you need to have clear policies and procedures in place to deal with grievances in your workplace. Here are five effective steps you can use to conduct a grievance procedure.

While it's crucial that all your employees must know that there's a grievance procedure and how to use it, managers must also be clear on what to do when a grievance is lodged.

Here's how you can conduct a grievance procedure that'll result in a quick resolution within the stipulated deadlines.

Conduct a grievance procedure using these five easy steps

Step #1: Raise the grievance verbally

Encourage your employees to raise a grievance verbally first, to see if it can be resolved.

This is for cases that aren't serious and are capable of resolution through a discussion.

For example, you can use informal discussions to resolve minor incidents, such as employees losing their temper with each other, not including each other in meetings, refusing to give information that's necessary and making a rude (but minor) remark.

Remember, to insist that a serious matter be resolved through informal means is insulting to your employee.

Step #2: Lodge a written complaint

Advise your employee to lodge a written complaint.

You should support your employee at all times. It's a sign of emotional intelligence as a manager to be able to support and encourage grievances and not to take things personally. The measure of you as a manager isn't that there are no grievances (this would be unnatural, where there are people, issues arise), but rather how you manage them, says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.

Both at induction phase and when your employee raises a grievance, you should take the employee through the form and tell them how best to complete it.

The grievance should contain:

  • The facts upon which the grievance is based;
  • Against whom the grievance is lodged;
  • When the incident occurred;
  • The policy that the company or one of its employees has allegedly violated; and
  • The solution sought.

The grievance should have as much detail as possible: date, time, people involved an exact description of the incident.

Step #3: Investigate the grievance

This may either take place in front of both parties (the grievant and the accused) or you can investigate it separately. Once you have investigated the matter, it's important to call both parties in and try and have a discussion around the issue. Once again, your training around good mediation skills will be vital as to whether you resolve the issue or not.

You must:

  • Listen to both parties;
  • Play a neutral role;
  • Emphasise upon both parties that there needs to be a business solution to the problem. This means neither party really has a choice – they have to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the business. Try and steer the conversation to ensure that a satisfactory solution is sought to enable both parties to return to work;
  • Refer the matter to a disciplinary enquiry if a work rule has been broken;
  • Resolve the matter within a short period of time – usually this is in about three to five days.

Step #4: Hold a grievance hearing

Hold a grievance hearing with both parties present. It's important to allow both parties to present their side of the story. Listen carefully to what both parties have to say. Listening carefully will enable you to take the cue as to what will resolve the matter. Very often, the complainant wants an apology.

Just be sure to give an outcome within the period of time stipulated within your company grievance procedure. This often ranges between three to five days.

'It's not fair to linger over the outcome; neither is it good for production. Parties will stew over the matter and be distracted (and distract others), until it's resolved,' says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management. If it's not possible to keep to the stipulated time frames, you should inform the grievant of this and the need to extend the period in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Step #5: Lodge further grievances with senior management

Your policy should allow for a next step if the grievant isn't satisfied with the response or if you haven't resolved the matter in time. Of course, a further step will be required if you're the source against whom the grievance is lodged. This normally means a referral to the next level of management. This step should also stipulate a period of time, which should also be between three to five days.

Using these steps will help you conduct an efficient grievance procedure.

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