A Guide to Handling Employee Disputes

Handled badly, employee disputes can be the turning point for a company – and not in a good way.

They can create a hostile work environment that can affect the whole office, consequently diminishing productivity levels.

While it can be difficult to keep everyone happy, the easiest way to do so is by making sure everyone is treated equally and respectfully.

Employee disputes may occur between and employee and yourself or between your employees. Either way there is certain protocol you should adhere to in order to ensure you’re managing everything as professionally as possible.

Grievances vs disciplinaries

It’s important to recognise that there are different types or disputes employees may have. These usually fall into two categories; grievances and disciplinaries.

Grievances is simply the process of your employee raising a complaint or concern with you. This may concern either another employee or a member of management (including yourself).

Disciplinaries are almost the opposite – where you have concerns about the conduct of an employee, or perhaps their number of absences.

In both these instances you should speak to your employee informally before taking any formal action – such as dismissal for a serious disciplinary problem.

Prepare for conflict

The best way to manage any employee disputes is to be prepared for them.

Addressing potential issues in advance will save you and your employees time and angst in the future, making your company a more attractive and professional workplace.

Potential issues that you can foresee and help to avoid include:

  • Unfair pay
  • Increased workload
  • Lack of communication
  • Frustration at lack of progress
  • Ineffective management – which can lead to a distrust in leadership
  • Confusion around job roles
  • Lack of equal opportunities
  • High turnover of employees

You can help avoid these potential issues by running a work place that’s focused on open communication and creating a positive work environment for employees.

Then, if your employees feel like they deserve a raise or want to go for a new position that’s opened up, they’re more likely to come directly to you – rather than wondering why you haven’t offered it to them yet.

Have a plan of action

While you can try to avoid any conflict by taking the measures above, it will be impossible to go through even one year of business without encountering some form of conflict.

That’s why having framework in place for dealing with such disputes can make things and awful lot easier when they do occur.

Your plan of action may not cover every eventuality, but you can come up with a series of plans that are vague enough to be adapted to different situations. For instance, if employees are struggling with the structure of the business you might ask them to brainstorm some new ideas that would

Oversee employee disputes

If the issue you’re dealing with is in amongst your employees, it’s often best to monitor the situation before you steam in with all guns blazing.

While you don’t want to leave them to it, you also don’t want to make the situation worse by getting involved when in fact, it could simply get resolved itself. Keep an eye on the problem from a distance and think about the best way to approach it should you need to intervene.

Nip it in the bud

You do need to monitor the issue to ensure you’re not getting involved too early, but you also don’t want to let things escalate unnecessarily. That means you’re trading a fine line when it comes to employee disputes – a line on which you should tread lightly.

Make sure you’re not sweeping everything under the carpet in hopes of a quick resolution. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself you need to ensure you effectively address the problem and make sure people feel that they’re being respected and listened to.

This will involve speaking to the parties involved and nipping the issue in the bud as soon as possible.

What are your top tips for managing employee disputes? Leave them in the comment section below to help a fellow entrepreneurs out!

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