Four of the most common work complaints include theft, harassment, discrimination and violence. Employees have the right and responsibility to report anything that affects health, safety or culture in the company. However, if these issues are handled improperly, your business could face serious consequences, including fines or penalties. Learn how to address work complaints the right way as you reduce liability and create a positive work environment.
Establish a protocol for reporting complaints.
Every employee should know how to report a complaint. It can be done in person, over the phone or online. Usually, these reports are filtered through the Human Resources department, but plan a reporting system that works best for you. Also, be sure employees have options that allow them to report to someone other than their direct supervisor.
Get full details.
The employee with the concern should fill out a complete written statement or form with details about the complaint. The form should include the:
- Description of events
- Names of the individuals involved, including witnesses
- Times and dates of the incident/s
- Other relevant details
Determine if you should formally investigate the incident.
While you must take all complaints seriously, an odor in the break room or an employee who doesn’t work well with others do not require formal investigations. You should investigate reports of theft, harassment, hostility or discrimination, though.
Investigate complaints as soon as possible. Interview the complainant, the accused and witnesses, and gather supporting documents that substantiate the complaint, including memos, emails, photos or voicemails. If you are a party in the complaint, ask a neutral party from another department to oversee the investigation.
Insist on confidentiality.
The complainant, accused and witnesses should maintain confidentiality rather than spreading any details or rumors about the complaint. Also, remind them that they should not retaliate or tolerate any type of retaliation.
Conclude the investigation.
After you interview the relevant individuals and collect the documentation, notify the complainants that the issue is resolved. Share, too, if the complaint was substantiated or not.
Take appropriate action.
The complaint may warrant employee discipline, further training or referral to your employee assistance program. If so, recommend these steps and monitor the employees involved to ensure the incident does not happen again.
Hire a mediator.
In certain cases, you will need to hire a mediator. He or she will provide conflict resolution, training or other services that improve future interactions between employees.
All workplace complaints should be handled properly as you protect employees and your company. For more assistance, talk to your Human Resources manager.