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Employee feedback prompts updates to grievance policy

Purdue University is dedicated to ensuring positive working relationships for all faculty and staff.  When an employee’s work experience is altered to the point where he or she feels the need to file a grievance, you know the environment is uncomfortable and that attempts to solve the issue through informal means have failed.

At that point, Purdue University’s grievance policy, which exists to provide a fair and equitable formal process for an employee to have his or her dispute(s) heard, comes into play. However, negative feedback received from supervisors and employees involved in the current grievance process prompted a review.

“Employees spoke and their concerns were heard,” said Sharon Williams, interim employee relations manager. In an effort to minimize additional, emotional stress for both parties, the University adjusted its current grievance policy and is moving to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) concept. The changes to the policy, effective July 1, 2015, bring a more user-friendly, non-adversarial approach to the process.

The revamped dispute resolution policy will provide those employees experiencing a grievance – a concern, complaint or issue with their employment or working conditions – the opportunity to improve the situation at hand and the ability to move forward in a positive manner. The new policy allows opportunity for additional resources and training for both parties as well.

Human Resources employees who have been trained in workplace alternative dispute resolution, will work as mediators between the two parties and facilitate an informal resolution process. This allows for one-on-one conversations for both parties to share their perspective of the situation at hand from which the specialists can provide resolution recommendations.

If it is ever necessary to go beyond the recommendations made by the mediator, the updated process allows the parties to discuss their situations with a three-member panel of their peers. The panel has the ability to ask questions and dig deeper into the situation. This step helps ensure the recommendation made to the vice president of human resources for the final outcome is fair.

“We hope moving forward that employees faced with grievance issues find the new process to be less time-consuming, less judicial and more solutions-driven,” Williams said. “The goal is to position ourselves in a place to better help both parties find successful outcomes.”

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