I’m amazed at how often employers fight tooth and nail over the smallest of issues. Employers need to be the grown ups in labour disputes and drop the petty battles. Not a cheap shot at unions, it is simply that employers have the authority therefore they get the responsibility.
Some employers mistakenly fight every single issue, regardless of how small. ‘Allowing a grievance is a sign of weakness’ seems to be their mantra. They think it makes them look like the leader. I think it makes them look like a dictator. Watch out for rebellions!
A more effective strategy is, for an employer who is faced with a disgruntled employee (be it a complaint or a grievance) to ask themselves these questions:
1) From the aggrieved employee’s perspective, what is the issue here?
2) What is my issue? Is there a principle or am I just reacting?
3) If I was in the employee’s shoes what would I do? What would I think is fair?
4) What is the impact of settling this issue in the employee’s favour versus the impact on the workplace of refusing to settle?
Now don’t misread me, if it is a matter of principle that needs to be preserved (i.e. a management right, or not expanding the collective agreement) I am the biggest doberman pincher of them all. All I am saying is the truly ‘big’ cases are few and far between. Pick your battles. If you can understand the employee’s perspective and would want to be treated different if it were you, then I suggest more of a golden retriever type response. Treating your employees well will pay off in the end.
Besides, the doberman routine is a lot more effective if you do not see it everyday!