How to Deal with Employee Grievances?

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Nikhat Hamza
Director, India

How to Deal with Employee Grievances?

The economy is in deceleration and jobs are scarce. People try hard and use all kind of personal influences to get a job. There is a survival trait among all of us. This survival trait is not perse negative if the person uses it to upgrade and meet the expectations of the organization. Then it will not only add in the productivity of the organization but will also help in individual development. However if this survival trait is abused by an incompetent person it is likely to lead to toxicity in an organization. And if the survival trait is combined with a perception of insecurity this creates a lot of conflicts and unethical behaviour among the employees.

To sustain themselves, certain employees use a battery of techniques. One such technique is writing letters against peers, superiors, and organizations irrespective of departments and duties. This kind of behaviour is destructive in the working environment and causes loss of productivity. Why is this so wide spread in India? I think it is one of the traits developed from the colonial past. The colonial bosses who had no proper feedback mechanism relied on this form of feedback. It is natural to have grievances as the resources are limited and individual demands are increasing, moreover, the nonacceptance of people from diverse cultural backgrounds and behaviours also leads to insecurity. This leads to a lack of trust and the formation of mutually destructive groups.

When people work together, grievances are to be expected but to settle the grievance every organization should have respective managers and a proper HR process. Such process should enable employees to talk or formally complain instead of writing and hurting the dignity of others. The grievances should either pertain to the performance, work environment or compensation. When the grievance is pointing to a person or vilification of the person from another department / area it is not a grievance but settling of personal petty issues, afraid of not being heard. Less workload or inability to work for their role could also be one of the reasons for such behaviour.
This also indicates that the employee is concerned about her/his insecurity rather than organizational goal. If these letters are given cognition by the organization, there will be an incentive to write more letters and divert the superior from addressing the goals.

How should an organization address these issues?
This can be addressed by having a strong feedback mechanism.
1. There should be a trust in the organization such that genuine professional respect and collegiality should prevail.
2. Managers should be trained to address the departmental issues as and when they arise.
3. Anonymous letters should be replied with a message that this will not be entertained, at the same time it will be treated as unethical behaviour of the employees.
4. Professional ethics shall be inculcated in the employees.
5. Proper design of workload suitable to the persons competent level should be given.
Sometimes these letters may not be by their own volition and may be instigated by another person to settle their egos. Superiors should ignore such mutually destructive behaviours and infuse teamwork and belongingness for the betterment of the organization as well as employees.

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