There is bad news for managers. A recent survey by IRS has found that organisations on average face two formal grievances every year. In addition, 12% of employers surveyed confirmed that unresolved grievances have resulted in an Employment Tribunal. With the average cost of an Employment Tribunal now estimate at close to £25,000 failure to resolve grievances can be very costly indeed.
Show me a line manager who relishes dealing with an employee grievance and I will show a hundred who won’t. Our experience tells us that managers just don’t want to hear about grievances. But unfortunately the statistics suggest that the number of grievances is growing. The State of HR survey of 5,000 senior HR professionals reported that bullying and harassment were the main causes of grievances and that during the recession the number of grievances had more than doubled.
King’s College London, co-author of the survey, attributes the rise in grievances due to a stressful environment during the recession. The authors found that “management have had to be tougher, conditions are more stressful, and there are higher levels of uncertainty, so there has been deterioration between senior and line managers and the people being asked to make sacrifices.
I have no doubt that 2010 will be another tough year, so we recommend that all managers work hard to create a working environment whereby grievances are minimised. How can you do this? Try the following.
• Communicate to all of your employees regularly and truthfully (they can take bad news)
• Explain the need for change and always seek ideas and alternatives (management is not always right!)
• Handle change sensitively but don’t put it off
• Communicate the positives and negatives of change and hope the positives outweigh the negatives (success encourages more success)
• Work hard to engage all employees in the vision for the organization
• When grievances are made deal with them informally and quickly and if that doesn’t resolve matters use the procedures in place professionally and timely.
• Remember that you can’t please all of the people all of the time but remember that famous old Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
Remember a grievance is mostly a failure on both employer and employee and solving the problem should be seen as a common event, often with both parties have to give a bit to get a satisfactory conclusion.
Dr Hugh Billot, Managing Director
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