It would be unfair to speculate too much, no-one really knows what goes on behind closed doors after all, but after news emerged this week that the employee tribunal organisation ACAS has reported a 15% increase in employee disputes, I can’t help but wonder what on earth is going on within some of these companies.

Let’s not forget, first of all, what these tribunals actually cost both employer and government, not to forget the employee in terms of time away from work and no doubt a huge amount of stress and drop in motivation to boot. I think all three aforementioned parties could do without these costly and time-consuming tribunals, and I know as an outsider looking in, I could do without them siphoning off government money and putting pressure on business at a time when there is enough pressure from other well-documented sources.

I probably wouldn’t be as moved by the 15% hike if I hadn’t seen how easy it is for business leaders to get a key grasp on the behaviour of those working within their organisation, understand what is (or isn’t) motivating them, and last but not least, actually take action.

Of course, if these boards of directors knew that an on-going dispute over flexible working practices, pay, benefits or holiday entitlement was close to causing industrial action or a trip to the ACAS offices (well, more likely a visit to the website these days I suppose), some sort of action would be taken. Wouldn’t it?

Feedback is essential, and for organisations not to be inviting feedback and then taking action on that feedback is a nonsense. Every organisation has issues that are bubbling up on the shop floor, meeting room, office or boardroom, and despite the fact that you know those issues exist, you have little or no idea about when they will boil over and become something more damaging than a few nasty glances from the coffee machine.

There is a reason that more employees are marching to ACAS in need of help to settle employment disputes, and it is embedded in the fact that employers are becoming so disconnected from their workforce that they have no idea where and when a “minor dispute” becomes a profit-stalling corporate nightmare.

Elva Ainsworth – Download our whitepaper on 360 v training at 360 degree appraisal
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