Nearly 30 percent of employers have seen an increase in employee grievances

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Working relationships and pay are the most common issues for employees. What preventative measures can you take? And how best should you manage the process when a grievance is raised?

Why more grievances?

The survey carried out by XpertHR involved 158 UK organisations and consisted of 324,545 employees. From the information gathered, it was found that the top 3 reasons for employee grievances are:

  • Bullying or harassment (67%)
  • Relationships with managers (54%)
  • Relationships with colleagues (49%)

Other respondents (37%) felt that pay and grading was the main cause of grievances. Against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis and soaring interest rates, there is an obvious tension between employers and employees when it comes to affordable pay awards.

Further, 4 in 10 respondents said that managers were ineffective at resolving issues with employees prior to their concern being escalated as a formal grievance or disciplinary matter. Some reported this was due to a lack of training to deal with complaints, whilst others said managers did not want to be seen as the “bad guy”.

What can you do?

Preventative measures include:

  • Being proactive in asking how employees perceive various workplace issues.
  • Make it clear in the written grievance procedure that informal resolution should be considered before raising a formal grievance.
  • Respond to any verbal grievances appropriately with a considered and balanced response. If a response is given verbally, a note should be kept of the conversation. Show empathy!
  • Train managers in how to recognise and deal with grievance situations promptly and effectively.
  • Ensure diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), equal opportunities, anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies are in place and make sure that all workers are aware of them, and the standards of behaviour expected of them. These cultural topics need to be thread into all conversations, processes and procedures.

On receipt of a grievance, you should:

  • Action any complaint swiftly and in strict accordance with your grievance procedures and the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
  • Make sure that the employees involved in the grievance process feel safe and have a point of contact throughout the process.
  • Ensure that an independent and impartial investigation is conducted. Collate evidence and allow any accused employees’ time to respond to the allegations. Once a meeting has been arranged with the aggrieved employee and any witnesses, a decision can then be made as to the findings, conclusions and recommendations to improve the workplace situation.
  • Ensure employees are notified of their right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official at any formal grievance hearings or meetings.
  • Remain open-minded when looking into the substance of a grievance. Be careful not to make assumptions or jump to conclusions.
  • Keep records of everything! This should include records of all grievances raised, steps taken to deal with each grievance, any hearings or investigations carried out, the decision, reasons for the decision, plus any appeal hearings, and finally – the outcome.

How we can help

If you are faced with a grievance, individual or collective, or you have issues affecting your workplace culture, our team of experienced independent and impartial employment investigators can provide hands on investigation support. Please call us for an initial chat on 0808 196 3151 or learn more here.