How HR deals with common employee grievances

Not all problems can expect crisp solutions. It is up to the HR to understand this and communicate the same to the workforce in a manner that ensures their cooperation.


Contrary to popular stereotypes, the human resources department in an organisation is burdened with responsibilities and work. Since the entire function revolves around people, which encompasses the organisation as a whole, HR professionals usually have their hands full dealing with employees and their grievances.

Issues and complaints from employees vary depending on the kind of organisation and the nature of work. However, most of the time it is possible to classify these complaints into the following common categories:

1. Compensation

Compensation is the most common complaint across all organisations and among employees worldwide. It is the one thread, which binds all HR professionals and employees together and which everyone can relate to.

Problems pertaining to compensation mostly arise among junior employees and not at the middle or senior levels. This is because, junior workers are quickly bored with their current reality. They have a constant need for recognition and expect greater compensation for their work within a short span.

For the senior-level employees, it is usually focussed on their career trajectory and career development. They are more concerned with professional development and enlargement of roles.

“In such cases, organisations should take action on an individual level and engage the employee on a level beyond pay. Possible reasons could be an unfair manager, wrong job choice or unrealistic expectations. Working on an individual level helps find the root cause of the problem”, says Ravi Parmeshwar, CHRO, ReNew Power.

2. Leaves

“I have leaves but I cannot take them”. How many times have we heard this? It is common for employees to complaint about their inability to avail leaves despite having unused leaves left. Nowadays, the workload has increased for organisations making it difficult for employees to take time off work. This is because, most of the time, other employees cannot pick up the slack by themselves. Job responsibilities have increased so much that employees cannot find substitutes to work for them who are not burdened with their own load.

Ravi Parmeshwar

“While handling compensation issues organisations should take action on an individual level and engage the employee on a level beyond pay. Possible reasons could be an unfair manager, wrong job choice or unrealistic expectations”

It is not always possible for HR to find a solution to such problems. Responsibilities have to be taken up one way or the other. If an employee takes too many leaves, the system gets used to not having that person around and as a result, it will reflect during appraisals. “In such cases, companies have to drive a philosophy which encourages employees to take on responsibility and also make adjustments accordingly”, says Parmeshwar.

3. Favouritism

It is common enough for employees to feel that their boss has a favourite. Any kind of interaction where human beings are involved will contain a certain amount of bias, which cannot be helped. Each organisation will have its own method of dealing with such complaints. Organisations can be proactive in managing subjectivity by maintaining an open transparent culture. Or, they can be reactive in dealing with the situation post-allegation. “It is better to deal with such situations in an open and transparent manner. This enhances the credibility of the organisation and increases trust among the concerned stakeholders”, says Amit Das, director HR, CHRO, BCCL (Times Group).

4. Promotions

After a promotion, it is fairly common to find some employees feeling left behind or upset with the whole process. They may feel that the process is not transparent or that there is no clear checklist of what is required to qualify for a promotion. In such cases, employees should have access to continuous feedback so that they know how much they are actually contributing al to the company.

“Appraisals have to be continuous so no surprises are sprung. Constant communication is the key. Employees need to know what is required to get to the next level”, explains Parmeshwar.

Amit Das

“To truly understand the issue of disconnect between employees and their managers, we have to communicate from the bottom up and eliminate the noise”

5. Employee–manager disconnect

Often, there is lack of understanding or clear communication between an employee and a manager. Most of the communication happens in a top-down manner and information may not get accurately delivered to the employees on lower rungs.

Multiple, robust and consistent communication is the way to avoid such disconnect. When this happens, messages and deliverables are reinforced many times over, ensuring they are understood by all. Another way is to adopt the bottoms-up communication approach, such as engagement surveys and day-to-day communication using chatbots, which can gauge the mood of the employees. “To truly understand the issue, we have to communicate from the bottom up and eliminate the noise”, asserts Das.

All problems are dealt with in a manner that is appropriate to the company or the culture. Of course, issues arise depending on the organisations as well. What we discussed were only some of the common complaints that any HR department in any organisation can relate to. Remember, every problem will not have a crisp solution, and it is up to the HR to understand that and also convey the same to the people in such a way that they cooperate.

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