Small Business Brief


Top 10 Tips to Handle Employee Complaints Like a Pro

It is your job as the boss to make sure all of your employees are satisfied with their working conditions. But, what do you do if there’s a complaint? Read on to learn ten tips to handle employee complaints.

Happy employees are an essential part of maintaining a successful business.

Unhappy workers can lead to unproductivity and a hostile work environment. If 89% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, employers must be doing something right. Implementing wellness programs and a proper complaint system creates greater job satisfaction.

A more competitive job market has lead employers to realize how important retaining their employees is. That’s why businesses are trying to come up with ways to improve their employee’s experience. In fact, 87% of businesses are working towards increasing employee retention.

One of the biggest factors influencing an employee’s experience is complaints. If the employee feels that their grievance isn’t dealt with properly, they will become angry with the management and fellow workers.

Even complaints as little as office temperature can hinder productivity. You must become familiar with the different types of complaints you may encounter:

  • Long Hours
  • Harassment
  • Salary/Wage
  • Need more sick time or vacation time
  • Favoritism
  • Office Organization
  • Micromanagement
  • Problems with other workers

Dealing with complaints requires you to become a good listener and a good investigator.

These 10 tips will tell you how to deal with any employee complaints like a pro:

1. Create an Easy Way for Employees to Voice Complaints and Grievances

Employees must feel comfortable with the management in order to be able to issue any complaints.

You should consider putting a complaint system in place that allows employees to easily voice concerns. This entails putting a complaint policy in the employee handbook outlining the process of dealing with grievances in your office.

There are various ways to go about receiving complaints from employees including:

  • Giving someone the role of receiving complaints. This role is usually assigned to someone in Human Resources. It’s important that the employee feels that they can give their complaints to someone in confidence.
  • Making an open door policy. Open door policies let employees know that it is safe for them to talk about their grievances with you at any time.
  • Allowing employees to anonymously give complaints. Consider making an employee complaint form that workers can submit online. This human resources system can make creating and managing these forms much easier.
  • Getting the complaint in writing. An employee letter that describes a complaint can be turned into a member of human resource or management.
  • Holding employee meetings. Meetings are an easy way to address multiple complaints at one time. All employees are able to voice complaints in these meetings, however, some are better discussed in private.

2. Get Familiar With the Situation

If an employee comes to your office with a complaint, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics of the problem. You should also get to know your supervisors and other employees. This way you can understand their characteristics and determine whether an employee has a viable complaint against a coworker.

For example, if an employee complains that a supervisor is being too harsh and rude, you must get to know the supervisor before you find out if the complaint is justified.

3. Ask Questions

Ask the employee to answer all of the basic questions pertaining to their grievance. This includes knowing who the problem involved, where it took place, when it happened, why it occurred, and how the employee is affected by it.

4. Listen to the Employee’s Story

It’s important that the employee knows you’re listening. Trying to sympathize with your employee is also helpful in establishing a better relationship with them. Listening to petty complaints may be tiresome, but it shows that you care about your employees.

You must acknowledge that the employee’s complaint is recognized. Employees feel comfortable in an environment where they know that their voice is being heard.

5. Ask the Employee What Solution They Would Like to See

Determine what outcome the employee expects from you. Some employees might just want to express their frustration with their current situation, and don’t want to take action.

Others might want to see a change depending on the severity of their problem. Ask them what change they would like to see. Their remedy to the issue might be irrational, but it’s good to understand what the employee expects.

6. Obtain All Facts and Evidence

Before you make a decision on what action to take, you must first gather up any related facts or evidence. You should know as much information about the employee grievance before doing anything. You may even need to consult other employees and look into your company’s policies, rules, or schedules.

Sometimes you might need to interview other employees as witnesses. In a harassment case, you will need to conduct interviews to determine if the complaint holds any weight.

7. Determine Whether the Complaint is Justified

You need to use your own judgment as to whether you believe that the employee’s complaint is merited. If you find that the employee’s complaint is not, let them know nicely.

For example, an employee might complain that their supervisor is hovering over them too much. This complaint is frivolous. Just simply tell them that the supervisor is doing their job and no action needs to be taken.

8. Quickly Act to Resolve Employee Complaints

Once you have made the decision to take action, you must do it quickly. If you don’t take action right away, employees will be dissatisfied with their working environment and will lose trust in management.

9. Exercise Caution When Notifying Supervisors and Other Employees

Some employees who voice complaints don’t want their supervisor to know. Telling their supervisor might make it worse, and can result in a loss of morale.

In some cases, it’s necessary to consult with the employee’s supervisor. In a gender or racial discrimination case, it’s absolutely necessary to speak with other employees and supervisors. You must let the employee know that certain people will be alerted of the complaint.

10. Make Sure the Employee is Satisfied

After resolving the issue, you should schedule a follow-up meeting with the employee who originally voiced the complaint. This way, it’s easier to check on the employee’s satisfaction with the solution and determine if any more changes need to be made.

Keep your Employees Happy

Giving your employees the chance for their voice to be heard creates a more inviting job environment and lessens the chance of any human resource complaint. Tackling employee complaints can be tough, but taking action is essential to increasing overall morale.

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