Workplace grievances can be challenging, often unpleasant and usually stressful. Investigations and subsequent disciplinaries are also costly, causing you to spend precious time, resources and money.

While incidences do occur from time to time and complaints are made, there are some steps you can take to minimise grievances in your workplace:

  1. Communication is key

Ensure that your employees are aware of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. If you have clearly defined boundaries that are aligned with your company values, you are in a better place to avoid grievances.

Make sure that all your people – no matter their position – are also receiving a consistent message by using opportunities, such as team meetings or company updates, to raise issues over ethics and outline what your expectations are so everyone is on the same page.

  1. Be a proactive listener

Communication isn’t a one-way street! Building and maintaining a culture of open communication and psychological safety should bring any informal issues to light before they become formal grievances. One-to-one meetings and appraisals are just some of the ways to encourage frank discussions.

Employees who feel listened to and that their opinions matter are less likely to feel aggrieved by decisions, even if as a manager you may not be able to do what they want.

  1. Don’t let problems fester

For some managers, especially if new or inexperienced, it can be uncomfortable to raise a concern with an employee, and as a result they may be tempted to let an aspect of their behaviour slide, hoping it will somehow correct itself. Well, it won’t.

Many grievances grow from fairly minor seeds, so don’t procrastinate. If someone comes to you with a concern in a one-to-one meeting, act effectively and in a timely manner before that person’s behaviour becomes an established pattern.

  1. Be fair and impartial

We all naturally like some people more than others, and are likely to look favourably on those we like the most. However, these biases can be easily picked up on and could trigger a grievance, or be used against you in an investigation.

To avoid such pitfalls, first off make sure to regularly examine your own behaviour and biases – even doing the uncomfortable work of checking they are not related to anything that might be construed as discriminatory, such as race, religion, gender or disability – to ensure you are creating a workplace where everyone feels like they belong.

Secondly, be sure to justify any decisions you make, for example promotions and pay rises, with clear and transparent documented evidence to prevent resentments building over perceived favouritism.

  1. Know your company’s policies

As well as behavioural expectations, make sure you have a grasp of your company’s basic employee policies, such as sickness absence management and holiday leave. Ensuring everyone follows the same rules and enjoys the same benefits not only helps you remain fair and impartial, but prevents any technical processing mishaps that could lead to a grievance being raised.

  1. Provide management training

It’s vital that managers are regularly trained in basic employment law, people management skills, managing performance, recruitment and selection, and equality and diversity issues. Effective and inclusive managers are far less likely to have grievances arise against them, but will also harbour the skills and knowledge to help handle a wide range of people issues that could result in formal proceedings if not dealt with properly.


If you’d like further support in preventing workplace grievances or what to do when one occurs, Tell Jane can help. We can conduct workplace investigations on your behalf as well as provide mediation to prevent issues from escalating and training to upskill in-house HR and leadership teams. Email to find out more.

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