In the ten months since the UK Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful, the number of tribunal cases has, not surprisingly, risen sharply. While we applaud the principle of justice being accessible to those who need it, not just those who can afford it, one of the practical upshots is an employment law tribunal system creaking under the weight of claims. The three years from 2014 to 2017 when fees were payable saw a 70% decline in case numbers, and the number is now rising again just as steeply.
Some advocate mediation as a useful problem-solving tool, and we’re certainly in favour of potential conflict being snuffed out before sparks turn to flames. The emotional and professional cost to an individual of nursing a grievance can be ruinous. Even when a tribunal gives them the opportunity to make themselves heard and gain compensation, restitution or closure, the road to that outcome can be hard and damaging. It’s difficult not to wonder what’s gone so badly wrong with HR procedure and practice that this is the long-drawn-out result. It’s difficult to accept that nothing could have been done to steer a different course.
Sometimes people and organisations just don’t fit, and the sooner they part ways the better it is for all concerned. But how often do relations between good employees and good employers reach breaking point for avoidable reasons?
Make your policies understandable and reasonable. Don’t just follow rules to the letter, honour their spirit. Let your people know they really are your people and see how that impacts on their loyalty and performance.
And have a system in place that smoothly converts your good intentions into good practice.
How much easier would it be for you to manage your team if your HR software offered you “big picture” performance monitoring and absence monitoring, identifying positive and negative patterns that you could either encourage or nip in the bud?
How much easier would it be for you to build on your people’s skills and motivation if their training needs could be logged via appraisals, business plans, project workflows or direct requests, and the training itself could be monitored at every stage, enabling you to audit and evaluate its effectiveness?
How much easier would your life be if your workforce had no reason to drag you and themselves through divisive tribunal procedures, regardless of whether or not they had to pay a fee?
Fights always produce winners and losers, with bruises on both sides. Workplace fights are costly, demotivating and often avoidable. Unhappy, unproductive people restrict business growth, impede morale-building and generally cost employers a fortune. Jane software, on the other hand, costs a fraction of what you’ll recoup in higher productivity, lower staff turnover and far less time and cost expended on employment law tribunals.