Resolving grievances in the workplace

Having a structured and fair grievance resolution process for staff to raise and resolve concerns is vital for individual, team and business success on a number of levels.

A grievance in the workplace can be defined as any concern or complaint an employee has in regards to individual or personal issues, or relating to another member of staff’s behaviour or actions that impacts negatively on their morale and performance.

Grievances include but are not limited to issues relating to management decisions, training, sexual harassment, bullying, unfair dismissals, the work environment or other work related disputes.

Various legislation and regulation protect staff from these types of grievances including Acts relating to equal opportunity, workplace health and safety or criminal laws. To mitigate any risk associated with a breach of legislation, workplaces have a grievance resolution policy aligning procedures with legal obligations.  All staff are trained in policy and procedures signing an acknowledgement of receipt and understanding.

A Grievance resolution officer (GRO), is usually nominated internally, to facilitate the process of resolving workplace grievances.  The GRO is trained in relevant legislation and handling disputes and understands when it may be necessary to refer on to a more skilled mediator to resolve the issue.  To further tighten the grievance resolution process a company may proactively train staff on how to give and receive feedback, thus creating a culture of dealing with issues before they escalate to a grievance.

A grievance resolution system usually contains a policy statement, guidelines, responsibilities and evaluation of the protocols.  This is underpinned by a procedure or ideally a flow chart stating the steps to take for a staff member to resolve a grievance in the workplace adhering to the principles of natural justice.

Step 1 – A grievance resolution procedure begins with encouraging the staff member to resolve the grievance informally.

Step 2 – If this doesn’t work, the employee can lodge a more formal complaint with their Manager or Supervisor.

Step 3 – If the Manager is unable to resolve the issue then the Grievance resolution officer is approached to handle the dispute and if required escalated to HR/Senior Manager.

Step 4 – The last step in the procedure advises the employee to seek advice externally at the relevant state and federal regulatory body.

Another important step embedded in the grievance resolution process is an opportunity for staff to seek external support if feeling anxious or depressed about the grievance issue either through an employee assistance program or GP.

Having a robust and comprehensive grievance resolution system in place can result in happier, confident and productive staff and a healthier bottom line for the company.

If you need a grievance resolution system for your company or would like staff training in this area contact

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