Better Communication Creates Healthy Workplace Relations

By Glenn A. Duhl, Esq.

Employers often contend with disputes in the workplace. Employees may perceive injustice from time to time and assert claims or grievances. The perception of unfairness is commonly the driving force behind such claims. Avoidance, or at least the minimization of such claims, may be best achieved by clear communication of attainable expectations. In other words, we may best cross the finish line together when we know where it’s located.

We would all like to believe that each employee has the goal and ambition to perform work commensurate with his or her job requirements. That belief is more likely to become a reality when the employees are provided greater insight as to what the employer’s clients’ expectations are.

With such information, employees come to better understand why they are asked to perform certain tasks in a certain way. While such an explanation may not necessarily be required, I have come to see that when employees are told why certain things are to be done a particular way with a certain result, they are more apt to perform as requested and, better yet, take pride in meeting that stated expectation. When the workforce knows what the client’s expectations are, they also may better understand how to meet the employer’s standards. After all, when the employer’s client is pleased, the employer maintains the work; the workforce remains needed and in demand. When performance is deficient, contracts are terminated or expire, and jobs are lost.

Against this background, employees may still perceive unfairness from time to time. When a grievance is communicated to management, it must be investigated and addressed with understanding and fairness. If, after the claim is evaluated, it is found to be without merit, the employee may not be happy. So, how might the employee and the employer work together collaboratively thereafter?

Regardless of whether claims are with or without merit, the employer must demonstrate objectiveness and avoid giving the complaining employee the impression that he or she will now be treated less favorably due to raising the complaint in the first place. How can the employer avoid giving the employee a negative impression?

Here are a few suggestions:
• Thank the employee for bringing the matter to management’s attention.
• Create open-door policies.
• Have a toll-free complaint line where anonymous grievances may be communicated.
• Create workplace fairness committees to evaluate employee perceptions of fairness.

It is in the employer’s best interests to demonstrate and encourage open and professional communication. At the end of the day, we all work for a goal, and when we all work together to meet the goal, healthy workplace relations are maintained.

Glenn Duhl is a management-side employment and litigation lawyer at Siegel, O’Connor. Please visit www.siegeloconnor.com.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered and should not be construed as legal advice.