Grievances are always difficult and can be enormously stressful for all involved. They can also have a disproportionately negative impact on small businesses and small teams where relationships might be close and the working environment enables no “escape” from colleagues.
Here are five tips for managing the aftermath of a grievance in your small business.
If you’ve agreed to take any action as a result of the grievance, make sure you do so promptly. This might be a disciplinary procedure for someone else, some training, reversing a decision that was made beforehand or making changes to working conditions.
There can be a tendency to try and sweep things under the carpet afterwards, and not to involve anyone else in the team. Clearly the details of the grievance may be very confidential, but it is highly unlikely the rest of the team don’t know a grievance was raised and also probably the nature of it, so be realistic.
Consider asking the employee who raised the grievance how he or she would like you to handle things with the rest of the team, and perhaps brief the team that there has been an issue, this is now resolved, and ask for their cooperation in getting things back on track. You should also make clear that any form of taking sides is not acceptable.
Aside from the rest of the team, the working relationships between the complainant and the subject of their grievance are of course likely to be strained, regardless of the outcome. Be clear with both parties that you need them to be able to work productively together, and consider any steps you can take to facilitate this. Steps may involve internal or external mediation, clarity about expected behaviour, or perhaps adjustment in roles to minimise contact or even redeployment if that is an option.
Even if you feel a grievance has been resolved, it’s important you continue to monitor conduct, behaviour and working relationships of those concerned to ensure any problems do not resurface at a later date. This will also help you ensure that employees are not punished for raising a grievance in terms of workload, hours or other treatment indicating resentment.
The employee who raised the grievance is likely to be a bit “delicate” and perhaps suffering from damaged confidence. Raising a grievance can be enormously stressful and in some cases, courageous. So take that into consideration, and even if the grievance seems resolved, ensure you offer any support you can to enable them to continue in their role effectively and regain confidence.
If you have a grievance issue and you need some advice, do get in touch.