A co-worker you have gets shamed and embarrassed by your boss in front of everybody else.
It’s time to go home already, but your boss suddenly hands over more tasks to you at the last minute.
Your boss clearly favours one of your workmates over everybody else.
There is intimidation and verbal abuse happening in your workplace because of your boss.
All the above situations mentioned are examples of employee grievances, or scenarios that can be the cause of a formal complaint raised by an employee regarding any aspect of their work environment.
An employer is tasked with ensuring that employees have a safe and secure workplace, a well-defined understanding of their job roles, fair compensation, and are treated respectfully. Nevertheless, instances of employee grievances arise when a disparity exists between the employee's expectations and what they actually receive from their employer.
Are employee grievances always justified? The answer is that they may not always be. But whenever an employee raises a concern or a complaint, the leadership of the company still needs to tackle the employee grievance adequately and seriously. The reason for this is because employee grievances can lower the motivation and performance of the employee, and it also affects the overall work environment.
If left unchecked, employee grievances can lead to large disputes within the company. It can also affect the motivation levels of other employees. These are the reasons why companies must have proper channels for employee grievance redressal.
“When someone experiences harassment or discrimination on the basis of their age, speaking up is difficult in a culture of compliance,” explains Mahir Nisar, principal at employment litigation firm Nisar Law Group. “For many, the authoritative nature of the employer dictates one’s openness to share their experiences due to the concern of losing opportunity.”
In the United Kingdom, an experienced financial adviser pursuing the CEO position lost an age discrimination lawsuit when he was informed that he was not getting any younger, and the newly appointed CEO was younger and more energetic. The employment tribunal noted that these age-related comments were only reported after his termination.
What are the root causes of employee grievance?
Harassment and discrimination: Employees may file grievances if they believe they have been subjected to harassment or discrimination based on factors like race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
Unfair treatment: This can include instances of favoritism, unequal distribution of workload, or disparities in opportunities for advancement.
Wage and compensation disputes: Employees might have concerns about their salary, overtime pay, bonuses, or benefits not being provided or calculated correctly.
Unsafe working conditions: Grievances may arise if employees believe that their workplace is unsafe due to inadequate safety measures, lack of proper equipment, or exposure to hazardous materials.
Bullying or hostile work environment: Complaints about colleagues or supervisors creating a hostile work environment through bullying, intimidation, or verbal abuse.
Lack of training and development: Employees may feel they are not receiving adequate training or opportunities for professional growth and development.
Wrongful termination: If an employee believes they were terminated unfairly, without just cause, or in violation of their employment contract, they may file a grievance.
Work-Life balance issues: Grievances can also relate to difficulties in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, such as excessive workload, unrealistic expectations, or lack of flexibility.
Violation of company policies: Employees may raise concerns if they believe that company policies and procedures are not being followed consistently or fairly.
Benefits and leave issues: Complaints about issues related to benefits, such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, or problems related to taking leave, such as family or medical leave.
Whistleblower retaliation: If an employee reports illegal or unethical activities within the organization and subsequently faces retaliation or adverse employment actions, they may file a grievance.
Privacy violations: Concerns regarding the invasion of personal privacy, such as unauthorized access to personal information or monitoring of personal communications.
It's essential for organisations to have a clear and effective grievance resolution process in place to address these and other issues promptly and fairly, promoting a healthy and productive work environment.