A stressed woman holds her head in her hands

How to raise a grievance at work

If you have a problem at work, ‘raising a grievance’ is the process of taking this up with your employer.

During my time at Work Well, I have noticed that grievances carry two conflicting journeys – two battles. This emotional struggle can feel overwhelming and difficult at times:

  1. You feel you have been mistreated at work. There is a sense of injustice that needs to be communicated. You feel change needs to occur in your organisation and a learning opportunity for all needs to arise.
  2. You feel tired. You feel that raising a grievance could impact you through anxiety, low mood and may make the situation at work feel worse. You may feel disheartened in the process. Submitting a grievance may be the last thing you want to face when recovering from work related stress.


What can I do?

Before submitting a grievance, it can be more helpful to talk to your line manager in the first instance. Sometimes work issues occur due to a lack of communication, understanding and error. Talking to your line manager can open an honest conversation and create a loser relationship, both working together for a better outcome.

If you do decide to write a grievance, you may construct it in anger, writing observations and opinions in a tone of blame. However a grievance should be factual, hold emotion in a composed way, and provide a solution or outcome to the issue that has happened.

Take your time to write your grievance and consider asking an impartial friend or family member to read it over before you submit it. Be prepared, you may not get the response you want and the investigation may take time.

Sometimes submitting your grievance can add to the feeling of mistreatment, however sometimes your grievance is heard and it makes a difference.

Just the motion of writing a grievance can be therapeutic and help to release the upset you have experienced; you may not even feel the need to submit it.

Submitting your grievance

If you choose to submit the grievance, take time to think through what support you will need at work. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to continue to work in the same environment. You could request to be temporarily line managed by another manager, or to be moved to another department. You may also be able to request to work from home.

If the stress or anxiety has become too much, you could ask your doctor to sign you off from work.

Alternatives to raising a grievance

If you’re experiencing difficulties at work, it’s okay to put your mental health first. If it feels as though it will be too stressful raising a grievance, then it is okay not to fight. You might feel it will make the situation worse – in which case it is okay not to raise a grievance.

You might want to submit your grievance but you feel too mentally exhausted, tired and lost. You do not have to raise one, and there are alternatives that might suit you better.

You could provide informal feedback to your line manager during your one-to-one sessions or supervision. You could consider a career change or look for a new role at a different organisation. Or you could put that energy into areas of your work to make it better, for example by finding emotional support through your place of work with a buddy, mentor or extra training.

What other support is available?

Dealing with grievances at work can be a very stressful time. It can be a very personal and conflicting journey between wanting to let your employer know that you’re feeling aggrieved, but also wanting to protect your mental health.

Still unsure on whether to raise a grievance? Further support is available from the following organisations:

Still have questions and need further advice on raising a grievance? Check if you’re eligible for employment support from Work Well.

Nat Miller - Lead Career Coach

Hi, I am Nat, one of Work Well’s Lead Career Coaches. I have been with the team for 14 years and I am currently studying for an MA in Coaching at Warwick University.

Besides coaching, which I really love, I also have 3 children and I am currently training for a half marathon (as I must have so much time on my hands). I also love being part of my local community, walking the dog and I really enjoy a good Netflix series.