What to do with your grievance procedure..

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What to do with your grievance procedure..

The grievance procedure, as we know it, has been around since the 1970’s. It was developed by ACAS following pressure from trade unions to balance the employer led disciplinary process. In essence, it was designed to give employees the right to raise their concerns and have them heard in a timely and effective manner. It provided a vital safety net for employees. Nothing wrong with that.

However, over the past 40 years, the world of work has changed beyond recognition – greater flexibility, increased diversity, a shift to a services based economy, digital disruption and oh yes, lest we forget, one of the deepest recessions in a generation. These are just some of the factors that we are all dealing with right now.

But the grievance procedure has not kept up. Whilst it is still available for employees to raise issues relating to contractual matters, the vast majority of grievances are now actually complaints about the perceived behaviour of a colleague or a manager.

The grievance procedure has become a threat, a sword of Damocles that hangs over our heads. It is not a policy of dispute resolution; it is a policy of dispute escalation. It does not make matters better, it polarises the parties and makes matters worse – often much worse. It takes up valuable time, it erodes trust, it undermines relationships and it damages business performance.

OK, let me get off the fence and say what I really think: it is one of the most divisive, pernicious, and damaging parts of the modern business. Yet we don’t seem to talk about it, we just accept it as though it holds some ethereal power. We would not run any other part of our organisation like this. How is it that this hurtful, harmful and negative policy is allowed to exist without anyone sitting down and asking – why?

The grievance procedure is one of the most divisive, pernicious, and damaging parts of the modern business.

The very word grievance conjures up images of pain, anxiety, betrayal, hurt, fear and damage. If you don’t believe me talk to someone who has gone through one recently. They will tell you.

In case you are wondering, I am not an anarchist. I understand the importance of process and procedural fairness. I’m a mediator and I have worked with many thousands of organisations to help them to take the grief out of grievance. What I tell them is that YES, there is an alternative. YES, it meets all of the minimum requirements set out by ACAS. YES, it works!

It’s called The TCM Model Resolution Policy.

Three years ago, I launched The TCM Model Resolution Policy to an audience of 100 senior HR professionals and business leaders at the Law Society. Since that time, many hundreds of organisations have begun to embed a Resolution Policy framework: from major banks to postal services to hospitals to universities. Some of them have won awards. In fact the Lancaster London Hotel implemented the policy and saw a 75% reduction in time spent on formal grievances’ in the first 6 months. They won an award for their work at the end of 2015.

How to embed a Resolution Policy in your own organisation.

Evidence. Gather evidence about your current approach to dispute resolution. For instance. does it work, what impact is it having (think financial and human), does it reflect the kind of organisation that you are, or that you want to be?

Values. Go back to your values and ensure that they are reflected in your Resolution Policy. I have yet to see a set of values which espouse vitriol, dogma, blame, hatred, animosity, betrayal and fear so why let those values be the backbone of your dispute resolution system?

Mediation. Embrace mediation – it is the best way to resolve disputes in the workplace. There is no other dispute resolution approach that comes close to mediation.Over 90% of disputes that are mediated by TCM reach a written agreement (and we mediate some of the most difficult disputes imaginable).

Mediation. Embrace mediation – it is the best way to resolve disputes in the workplace. There is no other dispute resolution approach that comes close to mediation.Over 90% of disputes that are mediated by TCM reach a written agreement (and we mediate some of the most difficult disputes imaginable).

Collaboration. Ensure the triumvirate (or holy trinity as I sometimes call them) of HR, Managers and Unions are working together to deliver a coherent and collaborative approach to dispute resolution Shredder. Put simply, it is the best place for you to take your grievance procedure. You don’t need it, honestly, you don’t. The world (or at the very least your organisation) will be a better place without it.

 

Contribution by David Liddle, CEO of The TCM Group.

(This article first appeared in the February edition of the HR Grapevine)

Top Tip: a grievance procedure, once shredded, makes useful nesting material for a hamster or similar small furry animal.

If you would like a FREE copy of the TCM Model Resolution Policy please email info@thetcmgroup.com.

There are no catches and if you don’t like it, simply delete it and carry on with business as usual. But if you do decide you like it then I would like to welcome you to the Resolution Revolution with open arms.

– David Liddle

Comment ( 1 )

  • Jo Addington

    Completely agree – mediation has certainly turned round some toxic situations in my workplace as it’s a much more adult/adult approach, and I find the grievance process more parent/child, not the right approach when you have a really talented workforce. We still have a grievance policy though…good prompt to rethink this. Great article David!

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