Friday, January 13, 2017

Attributes of a Good Grievance Management System

EFFECTIVE GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL 

The recent spate of videos on social media by uniformed personnel pleading their plight and asking for redressal of their grievances indicate lacunae in the present Grievance Redressal Systems in the Armed Forces and Central Armed Police Forces. 

This reminded me of an article I had written many years ago on the “7 Important Attributes of a Good Grievance Management System" 

Here is the article...

HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 

SEVEN IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD GRIEVANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

A good grievance redressal mechanism is a sine qua non of a well-designed and functional Human Resource (HR) Management System.

In order to be successful, a grievance redressal system must possess seven attributes:


SEVEN ATTRIBUTES OF AN EFFECTIVE GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL SYSTEM


1. SIMPLICITY

It must be a procedurally simple mechanism which is easy to use by every employee across the board.

It is best to have a simple form or an online drop down menu where an employee can effortlessly submit a grievance or complaint as he wishes to offline or online or even by SMS callback.

As one of my bosses used to say about grievance management:

“Don’t ask people to pour their hearts out and write long-winded sob-stories and essays – just give them a simple form to fill.”

Yes, a well-designed form can encapsulate the problem more objectively and avoid communications mismatches.


2. ACCESSIBILITY

All employees must have easy access to the grievance redressal mechanism – and – it should be quick and simple procedure to lodge a grievance.

In earlier days – before the IT Boom and prior to the advent of Internet – there used to be cards or forms which could be filled up and put in easily accessible drop boxes which were located all over the workplace, canteens and shop-floors.

Nowadays – in the digital age – it can be an online system which must be easily accessible 24/7 to all employees from their workplace and their homes as well. 

If employees have a grievance – they must know where and how to submit it – and the procedure must be fast and easy. 

With the increasing proliferation of the Social Media – it may be a good idea to make effective use of Social Media in Grievance Management.


3. EFFECTIVENESS

The grievance redressal mechanism must be effective.

The system must work (and it must be seen to work).

There must be proper monitoring, follow-up and feedback to the employees and all concerned about the status and processing of the complaint.

The grievance redressal procedure must ensure that it is made unambiguously and clearly evident to all employees that there is an honest and transparent effort to resolve all grievances in a fair and just manner.


4. EFFICIENCY and PROMPTNESS

The redressal of grievances and resolution of complaints must be done promptly and speedily in an efficient manner within stipulated time frames – so that employees develop faith in the system.

Remember – justice delayed is justice denied.


5. RESPONSIVENESS

The grievance redressal mechanism must be user-friendly and sensitive to the special needs of the employees.

It must be gender sensitized, culturally consonant and in harmony with the prevailing environment.

Most importantly – it must be modern and technologically savvy – and in sync with contemporary times.

Whatever the nature of the grievance or complaint – it must not be trivialized.

Grievances must be treated with utmost empathy and this fact must be evident to all the employees.

There must constant two-way communication between the senior management and the complainant. 

Sometimes a proactive approach is highly appreciated by employees as it nips grievances in the bud.

An impression must be made on employees that all grievances are taken seriously, treated sympathetically and handled with genuine earnestness with the objective of resolving them amicably, speedily and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned.


6. NON-VINDICTIVE

An employee must be able to submit a complaint or grievance for redressal without fear of retribution from higher management.

The employee must have no fear of reprisal from those who he is complaining against even if they are his seniors.

Checks and balances must be put in place in order to ensure that there is absolutely no victimization or harassment of the employee who is submitting a grievance or making a complaint and whistle-blowers must be protected.

The system must be absolutely non-punitive and there must not be the slightest perception or even a shred of doubt in the mind of the employees that they will be “punished” for making a complaint.


7. FAIR JUST and TRANSPARENT SYSTEM

The grievance redressal mechanism must function without fear or favour.

There must be total transparency in the procedure and justice must be done and justice must also seen to be done in a free and fair manner. 

A good Human Resource Management System is Just Fair and Transparent. 


SUMMARY 

To sum up – the 7 Key Attributes of a Good Grievance Management System are:

1. SIMPLICITY 

2. ACCESSIBILITY 

3. EFFECTIVENESS 

4. EFFICIENCY and PROMPTNESS 

5. RESPONSIVENESS

6. NON-VINDICTIVE 

7. FAIR JUST and TRANSPARENT SYSTEM

While the 7 points given above are in the context of Human Resource Management Systems  I feel that all these 7 aspects are equally applicable to Grievance Handling Systems pertaining to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Consumer Affairs, Public Relations, Client Service Organizations and the Service Industry. 

VIKRAM KARVE
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