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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Grievance

Employee grievance refers to the formal complaint raised by any employee regarding the condition of the employment or against any colleague or working environment. It is considered as an important aspect in any organization for employee retention and is highly important for any productive work environment. 

What is employee grievance?

Employee grievance can be mentioned as a formal complaint raised by an employee related to the workforce, working conditions, or the discouraging behavior of colleagues or employers, to mention a few. It represents the disparity between the expectations of the employees and how the organization delivers them.

Employee grievance is likely to arise when the individual feels that something is happening unjustly or inequitable to them. 

What are the types of grievances in the workplace?

Grievances in a workplace can arise from various issues and can be categorized as follow:

  1. Biased behavior
  2. Lack of proper communication
  3. Payouts and perks
  4. Working time and conditions
  5. Bullying
  6. Leadership issues

1.  Biased behavior: Grievances when the employee suspects differential behavior based on social factors, including disability, caste, or other protected characteristics.

2.  Lack of proper communication: Facing incorporative behavior or support from  co-workers and insufficient communication with the management can lead to frustration or self-doubt.

3.  Payouts and perks: Not getting paid on time or enough to the potential is a legitimate grievance. Unpaid bonuses and other perks, or disputes over compensation policies and rest of the practices.

4. Working time and conditions:  An employee may be unhappy regarding their weekly breaks or working on non-working days, not able to feel comfortable, which may affect their physical or mental health. Maybe employees are not able to make proper adjustments or feel sabotaged in the setup.

5. Bullying: Bullying constitutes insulting behavior, intimidating or superiors misusing their power through any means, such as undermining the employee or humiliating in the organizational setting. By these means, a hostile work environment can be creative, which can cause trouble for the other employees.

6. Leadership issues: Grievance includes managerial issues faced by the employees which includes being treated unfairly by the supervisors, being biased, lack of proper communication, not getting enough support from the managers and the guidance which is required by the employee.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What are the causes of employee grievance?

Various causes of employee grievance are noticed in an organization. Below are mentioned a few:

  1. Lack of recognition
  2. Meeting unrealistic deadlines
  3. Personality clash
  1. Lack of recognition: When the employees' efforts are seen to be sabotaged, feeling unacknowledged for the efforts put in or being rewarded for the contribution made can certainly lead to dissatisfaction and grievances. 
  1. Meeting unrealistic deadlines: Without an adequate workforce, meeting unrealistic deadlines can be overwhelming and cause employee grievances. Employees feeling overburdened and unable to meet expectations or deadlines can lead to discontent.
  1. Personality clash: When employees fail to accept the varying personality under the same roof can certainly cause personality clashes, including unhealthy rivalry, non-cooperative behavior among employees and conflicts in the workplace.

What are the effective ways of handling employee grievances?

It is critical to maintain employee grievance effectively which is quite a job to resolve the conflicts in a proper efficient manner. Here are some effective ways to handle Employee Grievance:

  1. Establish a procedure
  2. Acknowledgement
  3. Investigation
  4. Organizing a formal meeting
  5. Taking decisions
  6. Appeal systematically
  7. Follow up
  8. Uprooting and improving
  1. Establish a procedure: Creating a clear outline and accessible procedure should be followed, and following it with a proper concern that should directly dart towards the addressed grievance.
  1. Acknowledgement: This is possible only when the grievance is listened to properly and understood by the employees without assuming any circumstances. Acknowledging the situation doesn't cater to an immediate resolution of the problem. This helps the grieved employee to be heard.
  1. Investigation: The issue does not get resolved after hearing the management have to take essential steps towards resolving the situation and start with gathering relevant information involving the grievance. Cross checking with the members of management or people working around the employee.
  1. Organizing a formal meeting: Gathering all the employees with the grievance and other relevant parties included should be presented to the hearing. Now, the evidence in their own favor can explain and  solution, how would be to resolve the grievance. 
  1. Making decisions: After collecting all the information, the situation can be examined properly and closely. The decision shall be made to accept the grievance as a whole or as partial. Furthermore, it can be rejected if it sounds unreasonable. In case the situation is rejected one can help the employee deal with the situation.
  1. Appeal systematically: If a grievance is seen under any serious circumstances or corner further steps could be taken. This may include revision of certain policies and implementation of certain changes to prevent any further circumstances. 
  1. Follow up: Providing proper and adequate support with integrity, this may also include further mentoring sessions or certain activities to make the employees feel acknowledged and no negative impact of the grievance can be seen. Giving a follow up session to the employees could also be a great help.
  1. Uprooting and improving: Making a long-lasting solution so that the grievance does not float back up in the future, learning and improvising through the situation, creating a healthy pattern and implementing it proactively.

What is an example of employee grievance?

An employee who has been working in the sales department for a long while and making reasonable revenue and incentives feels like being compared to their colleagues and not getting enough credit for the work and shows favoritism which resulted in her disturbance and creating excessive pressure and stress during and after work which imbalance her work-life balance.

By providing the exact instance to the human resources department regarding the situation and establishing a formal interview with the employee  and her colleagues and reviewing the situation, comparing the data of their work with fellow colleagues. And results show that indeed her work was being sabotaged and biased behavior is taking place by the manager.

The company decided to take appropriate action, which also included her recognition of work and shows fair and parallel treatment for every employee working.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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