Grievance Management – Meaning, Definitions, Features, Causes, Effects and Procedure

Effects of Grievances
Grievances, if they are not identified and redressed, may adversely affect workers, managers and the organization as a whole. The effects are:

1. On production include:
i. Low quality of production.
ii. Low quantity of production and productivity.
iii. Increase in the wastage of material, spoilage/breakage of machinery.
iv. Increase in the cost of production per unit.

2. On the employee:
v. Increases the rate of absenteeism and turnover.
vi. Reduces the level of commitment, sincerity and punctuality.
vii. Increases the incidence of accidents.
viii. Reduces the level of employee morale.

3. On the managers:
i. Strains the superior-subordinate relations.
ii. Increases the degree of supervision, control and follow up.
iii. Increases in indiscipline cases.
iv. Increase in unrest and thereby machinery to maintain industrial peace.

Grievance Management Procedure
The grievance management procedure is the method or means by which a grievance is filed and carried through different steps or stages leading to its ultimate decision. It is through the grievance procedure that grievances are tried to be settled to the satisfaction of employees/union and management. Grievance handling procedure is a formal process of settling grievance and it usually consists of number of steps explained below. The number of these steps may vary with size of the organization.
1. Identify grievances
Employee dissatisfaction or grievance should be identified by the management if are not expressed. If they are ventilated, management has to promptly acknowledge them.

2. Define correctly
The management has to define the problem properly and accurately after it is identified/acknowledge.

3. Collect data
Complete information should be collected from all the parties relating to the grievance. Information should be classified as facts, data, opinions etc.

4. Analyze and solve
The information should be analyzed, alternative solutions to the problem should be developed and the best solution should be selected.

5. Prompt redressal
The grievance should be redressed by implementing the solution.

6. Implement and follow up
Implementation of the solution must be followed up at every stage in order to ensure effective and speedy implementation.

Objectives of Grievance Procedure
1. To let aggrieved employees known what to do if they have a grievance and where to go for its redressal.
2. Checking on arbitrary management decision by providing for appeals at several higher levels above the level at which such grievances occur.
3. Encouraging fair and equitable treatment keeping in view the rights of the employees.
4. Providing a check over the arbitrary use of power and authority of superiors.
5. Removing or minimizing discontent and dissatisfaction amongst employees.

Methods of Grievance Redressal
The best approach towards grievances is to anticipate them and take steps to tackle them before the grievances assume dangerous proportions. An ordinary manager redresses grievances as and when they arise. An excellent manager anticipates and prevents them. Managers can know and understand grievances with the help of the following methods:

1. Exit interviews
Employees usually leave their current jobs due to dissatisfaction or better prospects outside. If the manager tries sincerely through an exit interview, he might be able to find out the real reasons why the employee is leaving the organization. To elicit valuable information, the manager must encourage the employee to give a correct picture so as to rectify the mistakes promptly. If the employee is not providing fearless answers, he may be given a questionnaire to fill up and post the same after getting all his dues cleared from the organization where he is currently employed.

2. Opinion Surveys
A survey may be conducted to elicit the opinions of employees regarding the organization and its management. Group meetings, periodical interviews with workers and collective bargaining sessions are also helpful in knowing employee discontent before it becomes a grievance.

3. Gripe Boxes
Gripe boxes may be kept at prominent locations in the factory for lodging anonymous complaints pertaining to any aspect relating to work. Since the complainant need not reveal his identity, he can express his feelings of injustice or discontent frankly and without any fear of victimization.

4. Open door policy
Under this procedures, the employees are free to meet the top executive of the organization and get their grievances redressed. This policy is useful in keeping touch with employee feelings. But it suffers from the following limitations:
i. This policy is workable only in very small organizations. In big organizations, top managers do not have the time to meet the large number of employees daily.
ii. Under this policy the front line superior is bypassed. He should first of all know the grievance of his subordinate.
iii. This policy does not permit the top management to assess a superior’s skill in handling grievances.
iv. Top management is not familiar with the work situation in which the grievance developed. It cannot, therefore, correctly evaluate the information provided by the aggrieved employee.
v. Lower level employees hesitate to enter the room of a top manager and speak freely.

5. Observation
A manager/supervisor can usually track the behaviour of people working under hm. If a particular employee is not getting along with people, spoiling materials due to carelessness or recklessness, showing indifference to commands, reporting late for work or is remaining absent-the signals are fairly obvious. Since the supervisor is close to the scene of action, he can always find out such unusual behaviours and report promptly.

6. Step ladder procedure
Under this method, the aggrieved employee has to proceed step by step in getting his grievance heard and redressed as shown in fig. below.
i. Firstly he has to present his grievance in writing to his supervisor or foreman.
ii. If he is not satisfied with his decision, he may go to the head of the department.
iii. There may be a joint grievance committee after the decision of the head of the department is not acceptable to the employee.
iv. If the committee also fails to redress his grievance, the matter may be referred to the chief executive. The grievance procedure will be said to be exhausted if the chief executive is also not able to redress the grievance. The workers should not take any action against the management (such as going to the labour union or labour court) until the whole grievance procedure has been exhausted.
v. The grievance assumes the form of a conflict after the worker is not satisfied with the decision of the chief executive. For maintaining industrial peace in the plant, it is advisable to refer such grievance to the voluntary arbitration. The award of the arbitrator should be binding on both the parties.


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