5 actions to handle employee grievances

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A key part of a manager’s role is dealing with employee grievances. Here are five informal steps that managers can take to help diffuse a situation before a formal grievance process is necessary.

There are many times in the workplace environment where grievances raised by an employee are the result of situations that could have been handled at an earlier stage. The onus is on team leaders, supervisors and managers to recognise these situations and take steps where possible to rectify any situation early.



Step 1: Talk through the problem or concern with the employee

Provide the employee with the chance to voice their issue in a private space and use the opportunity as their manager or supervisor to fully understand the situation. When an employee first raises a concern, the manager should in that initial meeting, check whether the employee is raising their complaint formally. This should not be asked at the beginning of the conversation, as it may become a barrier to a manager and employee getting to the nub of the problem because it could divert the initial conversation away from the substance of the issue.

Step 2: Consider possible solutions

When you have a thorough understanding of the situation that led to the grievance, explore if there are any potential solutions within your immediate control or authority. When moving forward with a potential solution, make sure to consider the potential ramifications for others in your team.

Step 3: Where there is input required, agree on next steps with the employee

It’s important that the employee with the grievance understands what next actions will be taken and that they understand what steps they as an individual will need to take.

Step 4: Agree on action plan and/or timeframe for responding

If there are solutions that both you as the manager and the aggrieved employee have agreed on, make sure that a time frame for the plan of action is in place. This plan and time scales must also be agreed to by the employee.

Step 5: Keep a note of the conversation

Make sure that the grievance, agreed next steps and actions to rectify are noted for your own record, and to ensure that all the correct information has been documented in the event that the situation needs revisiting.


EEF essential management skills training can help team leaders and managers develop the skills they need to effectively manage their teams. The training covers all of the key HR areas from effective recruitment and selection through to ending the employment relationship.


L&D Consultant – HR & Legal Specialist

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