Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Grievance Interviews
So far we have gone over several types of interviews:  Screening, Campus, Employment, Reference-Check, Coaching, and Counseling Interviews.  These interviews have all been focused on the employee retention and evaluation.  This next interview represents a formalized style of negative feedback for the company or organization provided by an employee. As always, please tell us about your own experiences.  Feel free to leave a comment or question at the end of this post.


Grievance Interviews are a formal opportunity for individual employees to provide management with their conflicts about a company policy, procedure, practice, or person.  These interviews are often given by Human Resources professionals who are able to act as a more objective third party separate from the people and situation that may be creating the grievance.  (There may also be collective disputes at your firm that deal with a union and their grievances - this post will not discuss those.  Maybe I will look at it in a future post, but not at this time).


The process may begin when an employee requests a grievance.  Depending on your organizational structure, this may simply be initiated by word of mouth, but most likely will require the issue to be submitted in writing directly by the employee to be able to proceed.  The employee can provide that written grievance to an immediate or higher supervisor, an HR rep, or an Equal Employment Opportunity officer at the company. 

Perform An Initial Investigation

Prior to starting a grievance interview, you as the HR rep will want to have some background on the facts beforehand.  Read through the grievance to determine what the complaint is about.  Break down the grievance into digestible bullet points that can be reviewed on an item by item basis.  If the complaint is in regards to a specific policy, review that written policy before the interview.  Consider creating a timeline for yourself to be able to follow what happened and when, which you can update again after the interview.  If an action or activity of a person caused the grievance to be filed, be sure to review your company policies governing those actions before entering the interview.  Although 70% of the interview will be guided based on the dialogue the interviewer will have with the interviewee, it will be helpful to have a few questions prepared to be able to probe further. 

The Interview

Meet with the person that feels that submitted the grievance.  The interviewer should open the meeting by repeating the grievance back to the employee and then confirming the details of the complaint.  Ask questions to discover the facts surrounding the situation.  Ask the person to provide additional details.  Allow for the person to interject their emotions into the interview, as that may be a large part of what is driving the dispute.  The HR rep performing the interview will want to be sure to take notes and document everything.  Ask the “Five W’s” to drill down on details:  Who, What, When, Where, and Why.  Be sure to allow for follow-up questions.  Also be sure to allow for pauses and dead air during the interview, as this will give the interviewee time to collect their thoughts.


If another person (such as a manager) is involved in the complaint, you will want to have an interview with them to get a bigger view of the incident(s).  You may want to consider having an interview with other members of the same team to see if there is any discernible pattern - have they experienced the same feelings towards this policy, procedure, practice, or person.  Now taking the full list of responses from your interviews, you will be able to compare and contrast the answers you received.  Look at how different interpretations of the same event may have occurred.  In some cases, disciplinary action may be necessary against one or multiple parties; be sure to consider your company’s policies, their potential liabilities, and the full extent of the law.  It is likely that the HR rep’s decision about the next steps to take will be governed by a company policy and may require bringing in the EEO officer or another supervisor.  Take action in accordance with the facts that have been uncovered.

Grievance interviews and procedures can be challenging and determining next steps can sometimes be difficult.  If there is ever a question, I would suggest consulting your HR community online or your local SHRM for ideas. 

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals:  Be Human... Be a Resource...  Be a Resource for Humans.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes.  Do not take what I am writing as advice.  Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions.  The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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