Meaning & Definition


Grievance refers to the employee's dissatisfaction with company's work policy and conditions because of an alleged violation of law. They may or may not be justified and usually represent the gap between what the employee expects and gets from the company.

Grievence has to be properly addressed because it lowers the motivation and performance of the employee and affects the work environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

  1. Why should grievances be redressed?

    Grievances are inevitable in an organisation. And important too. They are a part and parcel of any organisation’s administrative machinery. Employees can have grievances with each other, with their managers or even clients. A grievance redressal mechanism is important for tracking the number and frequency of grievances which signify the efficiency of an organisation. The better it is run, the lesser will be that number. Redressing a grievance effectively and swiftly ensures a high level of trust towards the company and employees feel heard.

    A virtual help desk that is managed by the HR department is a great way to redress employee grievances.

  2. What are the three types of grievances?

    According to the Communication Workers America, there are three types of grievances, that are largely applicable to organisations across the globe. They are:

    Individual Grievances

    When an individual employee grieves against a management action like demotion based on bias, non payment of salary, workplace harassment etc.

    Group Grievances

    This type of grievance is when a team or a group collectively grieves against the management for example when none of the team members receive the promised overtime bonus as mentioned in the policy.

    Union Grievances

    This is rare, especially in a corporate setup where unions don't often exist. But in this type of a grievance, the entire union complains against the management generally over contract misinterpretation.

  3. What is an example of a grievance?

    One of the most common examples of workplace grievance is sanitation and cleanliness. Employees often complain of eating areas and bathrooms not being cleaned properly after use. This is an example of a grievance. Or another example is where an employee has claimed cab reimbursement but hasn't been reimbursed accurately or timely.

  4. What are the main causes of grievances?

    There could be various causes for employees to register grievances. They are:

    • Economic: This usually concerns employee wages when they feel like they are being paid less than others in the same band or grade, or when they receive inaccurate salary. Other examples could be delayed payment of bonuses, arrears, hikes etc.
    • Work Environment: Sometimes, physical work conditions like too much heat or cold, cramped or limited work space, low lighting, bad quality equipment, faulty appliances etc all constitute work environment related grievances and are valid causes of it.
    • Supervisory: More often than not, supervisors, managers and other top management professionals can also cause grievance to employees. Biased performance rating, berating, subtle insulting, harassment of any sort, all constitute supervision related grievances.
    • Employee Relations: When colleagues who work together don’t gel well, have issues working together on a project, get into too many conflicts etc. they can be a big cause of grievance.
    • Organisational Change: Sometimes, when there are policy changes or actual shifting of workplaces, employees may find themselves unaligned to the changes and that can be a cause of grievance too.


    An intelligent HRMS should be able to categorise the causes of grievances for swift redressal by the concerned departments.

  5. What is grievance handling in HR?

    Grievance handling is the management and redressal of grievances by the HR department. It is one of the responsibilities of the department to set up a formal process to redress employee grievances. In most large enterprises, an agile and intuitive HR Tech enables this process through a virtual help desk and assists HRs in swift redressals.

  6. How do you identify employee grievances?

    There are multiple ways in which HRs can gather employee grievances.

    Direct Observation

    Most good HRs have a knack for catching the pulse of employees. Just by keenly observing their talent and keeping a close, empathetic ear to how they are feeling everyday, they are able to ascertain if someone is going through a tough time whether at work or home. Moreover, with the help of pulse surveys enabled by their HRMS, HRs are able to keep track of their employee sentiments to foresee any grievances.

    Help Desk

    By setting up virtual help desks through a smart HR tech, cloud-based solution, HRs can identify employee grievances and categorise them into various buckets for swift redressal.

    Open Door Policy

    It is important for employees to feel heard and they should have non-judgmental talking spaces within the organisation to openly discuss their issues. Enterprises need to build a culture of empathy to enable employee expression and this can be furthered by the HR department by keeping an open door policy where an employee of the lowest bands and grades have access to the CXOs to raise their grievances.

    Exit Interviews

    These are another way to identify grievances. When an employee leaves the organisation, they are often able to openly express things that they were hesitant to while employed. Well conducted exit interviews can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation that can help HRs resolve any future grievances in advance.

  7. How do you write a grievance description?

    A grievance description or a grievance letter must have the following attributes:

    • The letter must clearly state the type of grievance and then the actual grievance.
    • It must be to the point and must get to the issue directly
    • It should state the facts, as objectively as possible
    • It would be advisable to not use any offensive language or obscenities
    • The letter is not about expressing anger but should objectively mention what the employee is feeling and what is the reason it has become a grievance for the employee
    • It should conclude by asking for swift redressal and willingness to cooperate with the concerned people for the same
  8. What is the difference between a complaint and a grievance?

    While the terms grievance and complaint are used interchangeably, they are marginally different from each other. While a complaint is usually informal and is generally accusational in nature, a grievance is a formal complaint raised by an employee to the concerned authorities, often in a written format. While complaints tend to be coloured with emotions and not always based on facts, grievances are more objective and are based on facts that made the employee feel uncomfortable about something at work.

  9. How to deal with grievances at work?

    Disconcerted employees can pull down the productivity of an organisation. Hence, it is important for HRs to build a system of hearing and redressing employee grievances. It can be done through the following simple steps:

    • Create a mechanism: HRs can use a well-designed HRMS to build a strong system of gathering and processing employee grievances.
    • Listen more than talk: While hearing the grievances, it is a good idea to practice deep listening and empathise with the griever to fully understand what they are unhappy about.
    • Inquire and investigate: Once you have the employees’ point of view on the matter, set in motion your own inquiry to understand all the facets of the issue and figure out the root cause.
    • Hold a formal meeting: Call in all the relevant parties and ask the employee to present any evidence to back up their issue. You can also ask them about how they woud like the issue to be resolved
    • Decide and act: Once you reach a conclusion, take a decision you think is best and then act on the resolution.
    • Set up and communicate the appeal process: Have a system in place that allows the employee to formally appeal in case they are unhappy with the resolution. Clearly communicate the rules for the same.
    • Review the situation: Decide on a relevant time interval and review the situation to understand if any further intervention is required. Act accordingly.
    • Analyse and plan ahead: Retrospect and gather insights about different issues and plan to prevent the same problems in the future.

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