Employees often mistaken or for their own vantage treat the HR function as a welfare department; a complaints department; a counselling service; disciplinarian; a justice department or a mediation department. Such employees can come from all levels.
An example is senior level management staff venting their frustrations at the HR practitioner because their staff performed not according to expectations. Another example is a staff whining about employee benefits being inadequate. A third example is a staff having problems working with his co-workers or supervisory staff.
Beware of Your Personal Reactions
No matter how much a HR practitioner regards him or herself as objective person or as human rights activist, he or she should refrain from personal involvement.
The role of HR practitioner is only to provide consultations on company policies and legislative regulations. Sometimes staff grievances can be emotionally charged situations. This is when some HR practitioner sometimes got themselves emotionally entangled and become personally involved with the staff’s case.
Responsibility for Staff’s Performance
The staff’s immediate supervisor as well as the functional head is responsible for the staff’s performance. They are paid to supervise or manage the staff. The HR practitioner is only responsible for his staff.
The Need for Formal Staff Grievance Procedure
Formal staff lodgment of staff grievances should be dealt by functional and organizational heads or an appointed committee.
Sometimes, even when there is a written staff grievance policy and procedure, supervisory or management staff, for their own convenience, heads straight for the HR practitioner. In other cases, when there is no policy or procedure, top management may be reluctant to adopt a formal process or management staff object to the idea of having a grievance committee because it entails additional work.
At minimum, have a form, to formally document the staff grievance.
The Need for Reference Number and Status Report
Always have a reference number as a control for every form that you give out. There is no necessity to do a follow-up is the staff do not return with the completed form.
Management of Anger, Stress and Anxiety
Staff is ultimately responsible for managing their own anger, stress, anxiety and frustrations although some enlightened employers provide training and organize related activities with the view of minimizing unhealthy outbursts of tantrums.
Misconducts and Criminal Offences
Often when there are thefts of personal properties, staff to staff scams occurring at the workplace, fist fights, hurling of dangerous projectiles at a colleague and so on, HR practitioners need to have a clear mind to differentiate these as misconducts or criminal offences; and act accordingly to deal with such matters. Sometimes terminating a staff or making a police report can be an emotionally traumatic matter for some HR practitioners.
In such cases, the HR practitioner should avoid playing detective and interrogator, and instead has the appropriate staff put up the required incident reports.
Employee counselling is both a specialized and sensitive area. What causes the staff grief may be a personal matter. For example, a miscarriage, marital problems, out of wedlock pregnancies, demise of a loved one, being an eye-witness to a workplace fatality could have led to depression and cause job performance to suffer.
Different companies varied in terms of budget, willingness to pay for employee counselling by an external professional counselling service. HR practitioners are no substitutes for such service.
Employee Feedback, Survey and Exit Survey
At any one time, not everyone is happy about the physical work condition, compensation, benefits or administrative produce. Often, for reasons of equity and costs, these are matters that cannot be judged on a case to case basis. Usually, they can only be dealt through feedback form, annual staff survey and exit interview survey.
Final Words – Workplace Politics
The workplace sometimes can be treacherous. Unprofessional behaviors can manifest at all levels of the organization. Discrimination, playing favorites, alliances and so on can exist. Usually, they are not transparent and can be hidden
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