Professor Bruce Fortado
University of North Florida
Open Door Policies
= This is the most common nonunion grievance procedure.
There are two
basic types of open door policies: namely, (1) the employee can go in any manager's door, any
time, and (2) a specific chain of appeal must be followed (e.g. the immediate boss, his/her
superior, and then the HR manager or the plant manager).
In union settings, the final step of
appeal is generally arbitration.
A neutral third party arbitrator, who is normally paid jointly by
both labor and management, acts like a judge in deciding the dispute.
A lack of a grievance
procedure culminating in arbitration remains as a big difference between union and progressive
THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF AN APPEAL PROCEDURE
Management's credibility will rise with some reversals of improper decisions
employees are given the right to appeal superiors' decisions, in the words of IBM, the
organization is displaying "respect for the individual."
A grievance procedure can serve as a communication tool to identify problem areas
issues, poor supervisors, etc.).
An appeal option should result in more balanced decisions being made by first line
No manager likes to be questioned, much less reversed.
A grievance procedure
therefore provides supervisors with an incentive to listen.
A credible internal complaint procedure should result in a reduction in appeals to outside
(EEO charges, court suits, and calls to union organizers).
THE NECESSARY NUTS AND BOLTS
There ought to be widespread publicity with regard to both how the procedure operates and
If people are not aware of the procedure and how it works, or if they do not
believe any reversals ever take place, it is a sham.
It has been suggested that 2-20% of the
employees should file complaints in a year, and one would like to see 15 to 50% reversals
The organization should promise to protect people from retribution
One hears things like
"You will go in the front door and out the back," and "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on
the way out."
Employees often fear being labeled as a troublemaker, given all the worst
assignments, no more promotions, and no more raises.
They may even worry they will
ultimately lose their jobs.
Simply printing that it is safe to come forward is not very reassuring.
Do upper level managers ever follow up and check on what is transpiring down the line?
manager is found to be exercising retribution, will that person be disciplined?
discipline does not exist in most settings, retribution remains a problem.