When an employee raises a grievance, it's crucial for employers to handle the situation with care, transparency, and professionalism. A formal grievance hearing is not about reaching a conclusion but rather a fact-finding mission to understand the issues at hand, and seek potential resolutions.
In How to Handle a Grievance Process, Emma-Jane Taylor-Moran explores the key steps involved in arranging and conducting a grievance hearing, as well as the etiquette that should be maintained throughout the process.
1. Arranging the Hearing
Arranging a formal hearing involves selecting a neutral venue that ensures privacy and comfort for all parties involved. It's important to avoid locations like busy cafes or areas within the office that could lead to intimidation or discomfort for the employee lodging the grievance. Instead, opt for a quiet meeting room or local business centre where confidentiality can be maintained.
When scheduling the hearing, provide clear instructions and information to the employee about the process. Ensure that they understand their rights, including the option to bring a representative if desired. Additionally, it's essential to communicate that the purpose of the hearing is to gather facts and not to debate or argue the points raised in the grievance.
2. Meeting Etiquette
Meeting etiquette during a grievance hearing is paramount. The environment should be non-threatening, and the chairperson must emphasise unbiased listening and clarification. It's the chair's responsibility to manage the meeting effectively by encouraging the employee to stick to the point and discouraging tangents that may detract from the core issues.
Recording the hearing should only be done with the permission of all parties involved. Transparency about recording practices is necessary to maintain trust. If the employee wishes to record the session, it should be discussed openly, and covert recordings should be discouraged.
3. Conducting the Hearing
The actual conduct of the hearing is where the employer's approach to fact-finding comes into play. The chair should have a script or guideline to follow, ensuring that the hearing stays on track. Begin by reviewing the written grievance with the employee, asking clarifying questions such as "What did you mean by that?" or "Can you explain a bit more about what happened on this date?"
It's crucial for the chair to remain impartial and not to react defensively to the content of the complaint. If emotions run high, consider taking a short break to maintain composure. Remember, the goal is to listen attentively and allow the employee to express their concerns fully. This can be cathartic for the employee and is often a significant step toward resolving the grievance.
Handling a grievance process with the right approach can prevent further escalation and foster a positive work environment. By arranging the hearing thoughtfully, maintaining proper etiquette, and conducting the hearing with a focus on fact-finding and resolution, employers can demonstrate their commitment to fairness and employee well-being. Remember, a well-handled grievance process not only resolves individual complaints but also reinforces the company's values and integrity.
For the full session, please click here.
Emma-Jane Taylor-Moran covers the following topics during this cpurse:
- What to do when you receive a complaint
- How to handle the process fairly and legally
- What you can do to resolve the situation
- Things to consider with an appeal
The contents of this article are meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The author/s accept no responsibility for any action taken, or refrained from, as a result of the material contained in this document. Specific advice should be obtained before acting or refraining from acting, in connection with the matters dealt with in this article.