Key Elements of Effective Grievance Management

August 30th, 2017

An effective grievance management mechanism is an important social management tool for projects where ongoing risks and adverse impacts are anticipated.

Want a quick guide to effective grievance management? Check out our free grievance management e-book.

manage grievances for stakeholders


A well-functioning grievance mechanism provides a transparent, credible, and fair process to all parties. It enhances outcomes and gives people the satisfaction that their complaints have been heard, even if the outcome is less than optimal. A good complaint handling process helps build trust as part of the broader community relations activities and contributes to the overall success of the company’s social performance.

For companies with environmental and social impacts, establishing a grievance mechanism that manages complaints (or business risks) efficiently is a good investment. Here are the various business principles and elements of engagement that are worth considering when establishing a system to address stakeholder complaints and grievances.

  • Fairness and transparency – For anyone seeking to resolve their complaints, the perception of a fair and transparent process is extremely important. A ‘fairness of process’ can be achieved by a combination of business and engagement principles. Check out our free ebook A Guide to Good Practice Grievance Mechanisms to see what these principles are.
  • Established early – Early establishment of grievance management process helps create a foundation for an open, respectful and trusting connection with stakeholders, and set a positive tone for future dialogues.
  • Scaled to fit the project needs, and be relative to the level of risks and potential impacts the project is likely to create.
  • Make it simple and accessible to the affected population.
  • Apply risk assessment approach to individual complaints within a grievance mechanism.
  • Publicly commit to a certain timeframe in which all recorded complaints should be responded to, and be closed out by, and ensure the timeframe is met.
  • Record and track grievances – It helps answer important questions about how a grievance was managed and becomes an important piece of documentation should the grievance escalates to the judicial system.
  • Monitor, evaluate and enhance the system as frequently as possible.

To see details of each of these principles download our free ebook Guide for good practice grievance mechanisms. In this e-book you’ll find:

  • key principles for an effective grievance mechanism
  • sample framework for a grievance procedure
  • typical steps of a grievance procedure
  • case studies to demonstrate how the basic principles can be applied to projects.

It is worth noting that a well-functioning grievance mechanism should not be considered a substitute for a good stakeholder engagement process. The two processes complement each other and both contribute to the overall success of the company’s social performance. For some tips on how to develop and manage successful consultation programs please check out our ebook Seven Steps to Successful Consultation.