Employee Grievance

What is Employee Grievance?

Employee Grievance is a condition of unhappiness concerning some issues, with regard to employment. In other words, when an employee faces any sort of disappointment or feeling of injustice, related to the employment, it amounts to the grievance. It can be expressed or implied, real or hypothetical. Anything related to the company which the employee feels thinks, or believes is not fair or just may result in employee grievance.

During the course of work, employees sometimes become resentful, due to the treatment given to them by their seniors. Or it can be because of the management due to working conditions, managerial decisions, policies, and practices.

Causes of Grievances


Working Conditions

Unhealthy and bad working conditions are one of the main causes of an employee grievance. This may include:

  • Non-availability of proper tools
  • Equipment and machinery to carry out the job
  • Lighting, ventilation, and sanitation
  • Bad physical conditions in the factory,
  • Machinery breakdown
  • Tight production standards
  • Unjustified frequent pay cuts
  • Disruption in material supply
  • Lack of discipline

Difference of Opinion

When the opinion or perspective of the management and workers do not match. It also leads to grievance.

Management Policy and Practices

There are a number of policies of management that can add to the grievances. This may include

  • Discrimination
  • Penalties imposed for misconduct
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Not valuing suggestions of employees
  • Transfer, Promotion, and demotion
  • Victimization
  • Harsh supervision
  • Authoritarian Management Style
  • Leave and Overtime
  • Lack of career planning
  • Hostility towards trade union


Grievances arising out of violations include:

  • Collective bargaining agreement
  • Company rules and regulations
  • Central or state laws
  • Responsibility of management

Personal maladjustment

It includes reasons like:

  • Overambition
  • Excessive or poor self-esteem
  • Impractical attitude to life

Interpersonal Problems

  • Uninteresting work leads to a lack of motivation to show satisfactory performance at work.
  • Narrow and non-cooperative attitude towards colleagues and co-workers
  • Highly ambitious personal goals and the lack of avenues in the organization to meet them

Compensation System

  • Wage rates and system of wage payment
  • Overtime and incentive schemes
  • Complicated compensation system
  • Wage inequalities

Features of Employee Grievance

  1. Rational or irrational: Grievance can result from any rational or irrational reason. Of these rational grievances are genuine and should be handled by the management. As against, some grievances are of emotional character and they are based on sentiments. These are irrational and hard to handle.
  2. Express or implied: It is quite obvious that an expressed grievance is easier to resolve. The management can identify them through various means like:
    • Gossips
    • Criticism
    • Increased labor turnover
    • Carelessness in the use of material
    • Poor workmanship
    • Absenteeism
    • Slow go work tactics

Grievance Identification Technique


Exit Interview

It is an interview undertaken at the time when the employee leaves the organization. He is treated with all respect and dignity. Here, preparation plays a key role. That is to say, the effectiveness of an exit interview relies on planning. By conducting this interview the employee seeks to find out the reasons for leaving the firm, improvement in HR policies, positive and negative aspects of the job.

Gripe Box System

In this, the employees need to pen down their complaints and drop the letters of complaints in the box, specially kept for that. This helps in providing a device to the employees to express their complaints. So, the employees can show their grievances without letting others know or without the fear of being victimized. These are generally kept at a conspicuous place in the office to get anonymous complaints. Workers can complain about any matter related to work.

Opinion survey

It is a direct and personal method of collecting information from the workers. For this, group meetings, collective bargaining, periodical interview, and so forth take place. This helps in understanding the mental state of the workers.

Open Door Policy

It is one of the modern techniques of receiving complaints from employees. Under this system, the employees have the right to talk to the concerned manager at any time to express their grievances. But, this technique will work only when there exist mutual trust among managers, and employees.


As the name signifies, the managers do not hear the complaints from the employees directly. Rather the immediate supervisors keep an eye on the employee’s conduct on a continuous basis. And when the supervisor notices unusual behaviors of employees. Then it is inferred as the employee is having some issues, which require an immediate solution. Here, unusual behavior means, an employee with:

  • An indifferent attitude
  • Experiencing difficulty in mixing up with other people, Frequent absenteeism, or idle time
  • Mishandling of machinery and tools
  • Carelessness or rashness, and so on

One must note that, whenever the management notices the grievances irrespective of the technique. The management must make effort to resolve them as soon as possible before it turns out disputes.

Effect of Employee Grievances

  1. Low morale and commitment
  2. Loss of interest in work
  3. Increase in labor turnover
  4. Low productivity
  5. Indiscipline among employees
  6. Increase in idle-time
  7. Unrest among employees
  8. Increase in wastages
  9. Increase in absenteeism

Basic Elements of Grievance Procedure

  • A proper channel system should exist through which grievance may pass for the purpose of redressal.
  • The procedure for grievance redressal has to be simple, definite, and prompt. This is to avoid complexities, vagueness, or delays which is going to worsen the dissatisfaction of the employee.
  • Steps for grievance redressal should be defined clearly. this may be related to receiving and defining complaints, collecting facts, analysis of facts, taking an appropriate decision, communicating of decision.
  • The decision should be followed up so as to know the reaction of the employee on the decision and also to know if the issue is resolved or not.

Machinery for Redressal of Grievance (Model Grievance Procedure)

Before understanding the machinery, we will understand what is grievance procedure?
A grievance procedure is an official process that is a prior step to arbitration that allows parties to resolve their differences in a peaceful and systematic manner.

Steps for Redressal of Employee Grievance

  • Step 1: The aggrieved employee conveys his grievance to the supervisor or in a discussion, in a verbal manner. After that, the supervisor must provide the answer within 48 hours of communication of grievance. The grievance can be resolved if the supervisor is properly trained.
  • Step 2: If the grievance remains unsettled then the second step starts. This can happen in two cases. First, when the employee does not get an answer within the specified time. Second, when the answer given by the supervisor is not satisfactory. Then in such a case, the employee can present the same to the head of the department or industrial relations officer. He needs to express his answer within 3 days of getting knowledge of the grievance.
  • Step 3: If the employee is further unsatisfied with the solution. The employee can go to the grievance committee. The committee evaluates the case and then gives recommendations to the management within a stipulated time. The committee is composed of some fellow employees, shop stewards, and representatives of the union and management.
  • Step 4: If the committee also fails to find a solution to the grievance within the stipulated time. Or if the employee is unsatisfied with the decision, he can appeal for revision to the company’s management. Thereafter, the management is required to give their decision within seven days.
  • Step 5: again, if the employee is not satisfied with the decision taken by the management. The company may refer the grievance for voluntary arbitration within the stipulated time. But for this, the parties have to agree that the decision of the arbitrator is final and binding in nature.

Wrap Up

Above all, Employees can express grievances in an oral or written manner. It may result in unhappiness, frustration, indifference, poor morale, inefficiency, and low productivity.

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