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Are you prepared to address employee complaints?

Workplaces are complicated. They involve a number of individuals with diverse beliefs, backgrounds and ideas on how to handle situations. Regardless of your company’s best efforts to foster a positive environment, issues will arise. As an employer, expect to receive employee complaints at some point.

In order to protect both the company and employees, be ready to handle complaints before they escalate. Have you carefully considered how to address complex employee problems?

What kinds of complaints should you expect?

You should be prepared to handle an array of complaints. Complicated situations arise in the workplace each day that require third-party intervention. Some of the most common workplace problems fall within the following categories:

  • Pay and compensation. You will probably not provide all of your employees with the same level of pay and benefits. Any time there is a discrepancy in compensation, you run the risk of employee complaint.
  • Personal problems with other coworkers. Long hours in the office can lead to personality clashes and coworker grievances. These could be a small dispute between team members, or a serious issue such as sexual harassment.
  • Discrimination. Discrimination complaints can encompass a variety of characteristics including, but not limited to, age, race, nationality, religion, pregnancy, gender and sexual orientation.
  • Safety issues. Even diligent workplaces can suffer from unforeseen safety concerns. Employees working with machines, on assembly lines or even within office environments will be able to identify safety concerns that workplace planners may not have anticipated.

How should you handle complaints?

Regardless of industry, ensure that your company fosters an environment of trust. Employees need to be able to discuss workplace problems without fear of retaliation. Clearly communicate who employees can contact if they face an issue within the workplace, and encourage them to do so.

  • Address the issue immediately. If an employee feels strongly enough to speak up, you must take action immediately. Failing to do so will increase employee hostility, and can lead to legal action against the company.
  • Consider all parties involved. All complaints should be taken seriously, and evaluated without bias. Consider each party’s needs, worries, pain points and goals before you take action. You need a solution that is good for both the employee and the company at large.
  • Ensure that proper policies are in place. The exact processes for airing and addressing grievances will differ company by company. Company size, culture and industry will affect how workplace issues are addressed. Speak with your Human Resources department about your current procedures, and ask if they have suggestions for improvement. HR will be your first line of defense in matters of employee complaints, so make sure that they have all of the resources that they need to appropriately address them.

Where can you find additional information?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers helpful information concerning your rights as an employer, your employees’ rights and how to handle grievances in the workplace. Visit their website if you want more information about these issues, and developing a proper company protocol for addressing employee complaints.

If you need professional guidance on how to best protect your company’s and employees’ interests, consider speaking with an attorney who handles employment law. They will be able to provide you with advice on how to legally protect employees and your company with thoroughly planned company policies.

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