Nearly a third (30%) of employers have seen employee grievances rise over the past two years, particularly around relationships and pay.
According to XpertHR, relationships with managers or colleagues is the most common reason for a grievance being raised, but many employees are raising concerns with their pay or grading as living costs surge.
The top three reasons for employee grievances are bullying or harassment (67%), relationships with managers (54%) and relationships with colleagues (49%). However, 37% of respondents reported pay and grading as the main cause of grievances.
Four in 10 respondents said managers were ineffective at resolving issues with employees prior to their concern being escalated as a formal grievance or disciplinary matter. Some told XpertHR that managers did not want to be seen as the “bad guy”, while others said a lack of training had left managers ill-equipped to deal with complaints.
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The vast majority (95%) said that HR’s role is to support line managers in conducting an investigation, while only 70% said HR is there to support the employee raising a grievance.
Noelle Murphy, senior HR insights manager at XpertHR, said: “With ongoing tension between affordable pay awards and soaring rates of inflation, the cost-of-living crisis is creating a perfect storm when it comes to workplace relations for many employers. Certainly in the last few months, this has boiled over and resulted in widespread industrial action in various sectors across the country.
“The findings underpin the change in the employee-employer relationship, and HR must adapt its policies and practices to address this change. HR need to push employers to drive a culture that is sufficiently open to address minor issues effectively before they escalate and provide support to all staff. Ensuring all those involved in the investigation process have support is one of the main ways to achieve an outcome that is effective while minimising the negative impact on the individual and wider business.”
XpertHR’s survey involved 158 UK organisations with a combined workforce of 324,545 employees. It was conducted in Autumn 2022.