Grievance Mechanism: An Instrument to Achieve Harmonious Industrial Relations

Grievance system is not an instrument that the state regulates. This is because there is a whole heap of enterprise types, size, interests and cultures that could not be fit into one legislative mould. Akin to pieces of organisational puzzles, an effective grievance system should fit enterprise vision, mission, type and cultures-the big picture. It should meet with what the company aspires.

In Indonesia, the word of grievance could be negatively perceived. Instead of constructive input to better working condition, it is not rare to find in the practical reality employee’s grievance is treated as harsh criticism to the company management. In the extreme, it sometimes dealt as a personal vendetta against a higher ranking person in the company. Although in-depth research to be done, the cause of this perception may come from the philosophical evolution of employment relationship between master and slave to employer and employee which somehow skip the essential spirit of workplace justice.

The treatment to workplace grievance perhaps shows the immature organizational reaction to perceived offence.  As grievance is treated as offence, it loses it potential as beneficial information from employees on not only issue of noticeable workplace condition but also likely affecting workplace industrial relations. A harmonious workplace relation is what many enterprises sought after. However, every so often companies are caught up with complicated rules, policies and procedures aiming to achieve a more balanced position between employer and employee which leads to a regulated relationship instead of equal and harmonious relationships.

Instead of regulating relationship, companies may perhaps change their perspective of employee grievance. The acceptance of grievance as a positive participation of employee may influence how it is taken. To do this, there should be a commitment from the highest ranking person/s in the company to change this negative perspective into a more positive tone. From top management to line supervisors should be educated on grievance awareness.

Second, the mechanism of grievance handling should also be taken seriously. Putting a grievance box in a particular location is not enough. There are many processes and steps to establish the “right” mechanism for the company. Although enterprises likely overwhelmed with the processes of grievance tools selection, building grievance handling resources, and formulating effective policies (workplace investigation: how to do, who will do, what to do after, what state laws applied, etc.). Nonetheless, these are some of the steps that could not be missed to achieve a maximum outcome.

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