Grievance handling
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Grievance handling Document Transcript

  • 1. GRIEVANCES AND GRIEVANCE HANDLINGEvery employee has certain expectations which he thinks must be fulfilled by theorganisation he is working for. When the organisation fails to do this, he develops afeeling of discontent or dissatisfaction. When an employee feels that something isunfair in the organisation, he is said to have a grievance.According to Jucius, a grievance is “any discontent or dissatisfaction, whetherexpressed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with thecompany which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair, unjust orinequitable.”1. Grievances or conflicting thoughts are part of industrial / corporate life.2. It is essential to bring this conflict to the surface.3. All conflicts cannot be eliminated but their exposure will contribute towards theirreduction.4. Such exposures lead to adjustments and further improved organizationaleffectiveness.GRIEVANCES AND GRIEVANCE HANDLING 1. Grievance procedure 2. Direct observation 3. Suggestion boxes 4. Personal counselor 5. Exit interviews 6. Miscellaneous channelsGREIVANCEAccording to Fillipo, “The term would include any discontent and dissatisfaction thataffects organizational performance. It can either stated or unvoiced, written or oral,legitimate or ridiculous.(a) A complaint is a discontent that has not assumed importance.(b) A complaint becomes grievance when the employee feels that injustice has beencommitted.D I S S A T I S F A C T I O N , C O M P L A I N T A N D GRIEVANCEPrepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 1
  • 2. To understand what a grievance is, you must clearly be able to distinguish betweendissatisfaction, complaint and grievance. Torrington (1987) provides us with a usefulcategorization in this regard: Dissatisfaction: Anything disturbs an employee, whether or not the unrestisexpressed in words.Complaint:: A spoken or written dissatisfaction brought to the attention of thesupervisoror the shop steward.Grievance: A complaint that has been formally presented to a managementrepresentative or to a union official.FEATURESIf we analyse this definition, some noticeable features emerge clearly:A grievance refers to any form of discontent or dissatisfaction with any aspect of theorganisation.The dissatisfaction must arise out of employment and not due to personal or familyproblems.The discontent can arise out of real or imaginary reasons. When the employee feelsthat injustice has been done to him, he has a grievance. The reasons for such a feelingmay be valid or invalid, legitimate or irrational, justifiable or ridiculous.The discontent may be voiced or unvoiced. But it must find expression in some form.However, discontent per se is not a grievance. Initially, the employee may complainorally or in writing. If this is not looked into promptly, the employee feels a sense of lackof justice. Now the discontent grows and takes the shape of a grievance.Broadly speaking, thus, a grievance is traceable to perceived non-fulfillment of one’sexpectations from the organisation.An employee may feel that there has been an infringement of his rights.Grievances exist in the minds of individuals.Grievances may be concerning employment, working conditions, change of serviceconditions, biased approach, non-application of principle of natural justice, work loadsand work norms.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 2
  • 3. TYPES OF GREIVANCEA grievance may take any one of the following forms: (a) factual, (b) imaginary, (c)disguised.FactualA factual grievance arises when legitimate needs of employees remain unfulfilled, e.g.,wage hike has been agreed but not implemented citing various reasons.ImaginaryWhen an employee’s dissatisfaction is not because of any valid reason but because ofa wrong perception, wrong attitude or wrong information he has. Such a situation maycreate an imaginary grievance. Though management is not at fault in such instances,still it has to clear the ‘fog’ immediately.DisguisedAn employee may have dissatisfaction for reasons that are unknown to himself. If he/she is under pressure from family, friends, relatives, neighbours, he/she may reach thework spot with a heavy heart. If a new recruit gets a new table and almirah, this maybecome an eyesore to other employees who have not been treated likewise previously.CAUSES for GrievanceGrievances may occur for a number of reasons:Economic- Wage fixation, overtime, bonus, wage revision, etc. Employees may feelthat they are paid less when compared to others. Work environment- Poor physical conditions of workplace, tight production norms,defective tools and equipment, poor quality of materials, unfair rules, lack ofrecognition, etc. SupervisionRelates to the attitude of the supervisor towards the employee such as perceivednotions of bias, regional & ethnic feelings, recognition, Harassment etc.4. Work GroupEmployee is unable to adjust with his colleagues, suffers from feelings of neglect,victimization and becomes an object of ridicule and humiliation etc.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 3
  • 4. 5. Miscellaneous- Issues relating to certain violations in respect of promotions Safety methods- Transfer- Disciplinary Action- Work Life Balance & Work Load.- Granting leaves- Over stay after the expiry of leaves- Medical facilities etc.other causes of grievances(i) Identification and analysis of grievances, nature nod causes.(ii) Helps at formulating and implementing the policies and programmes.(iii) It is problem solving, dispute-settling mechanism.(iv) Strengthen good corporate relationship.(v) It detects the flaws in working conditions and helps to take corrective measures.NEED FOR GRIEVANCE PROCEDUREThe following are some of the distinct advantages of having a grievances handlingprocedure: 1- The management can know the employees’ feelings and opinions about the company’s policies and practices. It can feel the ‘pulse’ of the employees. 2- With the existence of a grievance handling procedure, the employee gets a chance to ventilate his feelings. He can let off steam through an official channel. Certain problems of workers cannot be solved by first line supervisors, for these supervisors lack the expertise that the top management has, by virtue of their professional knowledge and experience. 3- It keeps a check on the supervisor’s attitude and behaviour towards their subordinates. They are compelled to listen to subordinates patiently and sympathetically.4- The morale of the employees will be high with the existence of proper grievancehandling procedure. Employees can get their grievances redressed in a just manner.vi) Build good morale, maintains code of discipline.(vii) Brings uniformity in handling grievances.(viii) It develops faith of employees.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 4
  • 5. (ix) Reduces personality conflicts.(x) It acts as a pressure valve.(xi) Provides judicial protection to the employees.(xii) Provides avenues to present the problems.Enables the parties to resolve differences in peaceful, orderly and expeditious manner.Enables the parties to investigate and discuss the problem(i) Open-door policy(ii) Step ladder type(iii) Grievance handling ( HR Manager)GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL SYSTEM1. Existence of sound channel.2. The procedure should be simple, definite and prompt.3. It should be clearly defined.4. Helpful attitude of management.5. Fact-oriented system.6. Respect for decisions.7. Adequate publicity.8. Periodic Review.BASIC ELEMENT OF GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE 1. Receive and define the nature of dissatisfaction. (a) Manner and attitude when complaint is received (b) Assessment must be made that the complaint is presented fairly. (c) Statement and issues must not be pre-judged. (d) Proper time and attention is given. STEPS IN HANDLING GRIEVANCESAs already discussed, there are valid reasons to have the grievances processedthrough a machinery or a procedure. 1- Objectives of a Grievance Handling ProcedureJackson (2000) lays down the objectives of a grievance handling procedure as follows: • To enable the employee to air his/her grievance.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 5
  • 6. • To clarify the nature of the grievance. • To investigate the reasons for dissatisfaction. • To obtain, where possible, a speedy resolution to the problem. • To take appropriate actions and ensure that promises are kept. • To inform the employee of his or her right to take the grievance to the next stageof the procedure, in the event of an unsuccessful resolution. 2- The Benefits of a Grievance Handling ProcedureAccording to Jackson (2000), further benefits that will accrue to both the employer andemployees are as follows: • It encourages employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisal. • It provides a fair and speedy means of dealing with complaints. • It prevents minor disagreements developing into more serious disputes. • It saves employers time and money as solutions are found for workplace problems. It helps to build an organisational climate based on openness and trust. Processing of GrievanceThe details of a grievance procedure/machinery may vary from organisation toorganisation. Here, a four phase model (Figure 1) is suggested. The first and the laststages have universal relevance, irrespective of the differences in the procedures at theintermediate stages. The four stages of the machinery are briefly discussed here:The level at which grievance occurs :The best opportunity to redress a grievance is to resolve it at the level at which itoccurs. A worker’s grievance should be resolved by his immediate boss, the first linesupervisor. The higher the document rises through the hierarchy, the more difficult it isto resolve. Bypassing the supervisor would erode his authority. When the processmoves to a higher stage, the aggrieved employee and the supervisor concerned mayshift their focus to save face by proving the other wrong. The substantive aspect of anyof the grievances may thus be relegated and dysfunctional aspects come to the forethus making it more difficult to settle the issue.In a unionized concern, the first stage of the procedure usually involves three people:the aggrieved employee, his immediate boss and the union representative in theshop/ department. It is possible to involve the union in laying down the framework ofthe grievance procedure and thereafter restrain union involvement in the actualprocess, at least in the first two stages. The choice depends on the top managementattitude and orientation towards the dynamics of union-management relations.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 6
  • 7. Supervisory role needs to be strengthened, with appropriate training in problem-solvingskills, grievance handling and counseling so that he can do much in reducing thenumber of grievances that get passed to higher stages in the machinery.Unrealistic policies and expectations and lack of commitment for equity and fair playcan cause problems in handling grievances at the lower level. Inadequate delegationof authority may also inhabit a supervisor’s effectiveness in handling grievances at thislevel.Intermediate Stage :If the dispute is not redressed at the supervisor’s level, it will usually be referred to thehead of the concerned department. It is important that line management assume primeresponsibility for the settlement of a grievance. Any direct involvement by personneldepartment may upset balance in line-staff relations.At the intermediate level, grievance can be settled with or without union involvement.Excessive reliance on supervisor at this stage can jeopardize the interests of theemployee and affect the credibility of the procedure.Organisation Level:If a grievance is not settled at the intermediate level also, it will be referred to the topmanagement. Usually, a person of a level not less than General Manager designatedfor the purpose will directly handle the issue. By now, the grievance may acquire somepolitical importance and the top leadership of the union may also step in formally, if theprocedure provides for it and informally, if the procedure prohibits it. At this level it isvery difficult to reconcile the divergent interests.Third Party Mediation:If the grievance has not been settled bi-laterally within the organisation, it goes to athird party for mediation. It could be conciliation, arbitration or adjudication or the mattermay even be referred to a labour court. At this stage, the parties concerned lose controlover the way the grievance is settled. In case of mediation (conciliation or arbitration)the mediator has no authority to decide, but incase of labour court or an adjudicator,the decision will be binding on the parties, subject to statutory provisions for appeal tohigher courts.Steps in Grievance Handling ProcedureAt any stage of the grievance machinery, the dispute must be handled by somemembers of the management. In grievance redressal, responsibility lies largely with themanagement. And, as already discussed, grievances should be settled promptly at thefirst stage itself.The following steps will provide a measure of guidance to them anger dealing withgrievances.Prepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 7
  • 8. Acknowledge Dissatisfaction:Managerial/supervisory attitude to grievances is important. They should focus attentionon grievances, not turn away from them. Ignorance is not bliss, it is the bane ofindustrial conflict. Condescending attitude on the part of supervisors and managerswould aggravate the problem.Define the Problem:Instead of trying to deal with a vague feeling of discontent, the problem should bedefined properly. Sometime the wrong complaint is given. By effective listening, onecan make sure that a true complaint is voiced.Get the Facts:Facts should be separated from fiction. Though grievances result in hurt feelings, theeffort should be to get the facts behind the feelings. There is need for a proper recordof each grievance.Analyze and Decide:Decisions on each of the grievances will have a precedent effect. While no time shouldbe lost in dealing with them, it is no excuse to be slip-shod about it. Grievancesettlements provide opportunities for managements to correct themselves, and therebycome closer to the employees. Horse-trading in grievance redressal due to unionpressures may temporarily bring union leadership closer to the management, but it willsurely alienate the workforce away from the management.Follow up:Decisions taken must be followed up earnestly. They should be promptlycommunicated to the employee concerned. If a decision is favorable to the employee,his immediate boss should have the privilege of communicating the same.Some of the common pitfalls that managements commit in grievance handling relate to(a) stopping the search for facts too soon;(b) expressing a management opinion before gathering full facts;(c) failing to maintain proper records;(d) arbitrary exercise of executive discretion; and(e) settling wrong grievances.Key Features of a Good Grievance Handling ProcedureTorrington & Hall refer to four key features of a grievance handling procedure, which arediscussed below.a) Fairness:Fairness is needed not only to be just but also to keep the procedure viable, ifemployees develop the belief that the procedure is only a sham, then its value will bePrepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 8
  • 9. lost, and other means sought to deal with the grievances. This also involves followingthe principles of natural justice, as in the case of a disciplinary procedure.b) Facilities for representation:Representation, e.g., by a shop steward, can be of help to the individual employee wholacks the confidence or experience to take on the management single-handedly.However, there is also the risk that the presence of there preventative produces adefensive management attitude, affected by a number of other issues on which themanager and shop steward may be at loggerheads.c) Procedural steps:Steps should be limited to three. There is no value in having more just because thereare more levels in the management hierarchy. This will only lengthen the time taken todeal with matter and will soon bring the procedure into disrepute.d) Promptness:Promptness is needed to avoid the bitterness and frustration that can come from delay.When an employee ‘goes into procedure,’ it is like pulling the communication cord inthe train. The action is not taken lightly and it is in anticipation of a swift resolution.Furthermore, the manager whose decision is being questioned will have a difficult timeuntil the matter is settledPrepared By Mrs. Neha Rathi Faculty of KKPIMS Page 9