Employees' complaints are usually legitimate. They may experience sexual harassment, they may be treated unfairly by their manager, their work-place may be unsafe, their ideas and opinions may be dismissed or ignored without consideration, and so forth.
Of course, sometimes employees will have unjustifiable complaints as well. For example, they may feel they were treated unfairly simply because a decision didn’t go their way.
To your employees, however, all of their complaints are legitimate. So no matter what you might think, it's important to respect their feelings and give them the benefit of the doubt by treating their complaints seriously. It's imperative your employees feel free to come forward with their complaints. Otherwise, you'll never hear any of them, legitimate or otherwise. A problem that's not allowed to come to the surface will grow like a cancer until it's too late. This is not to say that all complaints can or should be solved the way the complainer would like. It simply means if you want your people to be happy, they must feel listened to and taken seriously.
Even in a culture of open communication, some employees will feel too intimidated to bring their concerns into the open. If these people are unhappy, they may up and leave one day without a good explanation.
Try to draw these people out in a safe environment. An anonymous suggestion box may work, but a sincere, one-on-one conversation will probably work best. Hopefully you’ve allowed for this in your regular, individual employee meetings, but some employees may need a little extra encouragement.
Grievance / Conflict Resolution System
Grievance/Conflict Resolution System Your grievance system should allow your employees to air their concerns in a safe environment. Be careful not to reprimand or penalize them for doing so. You don’t want them complaining about their work to each other or especially to the outside world, so set up a process that everyone can follow, and stand by it. Following is a simple system for handling employee grievances. Read it through and then design one for your business.
- If possible, employees should try to solve their grievances directly.
- If this does not resolve the issue, or if they feel uncomfortable doing this, employees may bring their grievances to their immediate supervisor. This process should be fully documented and signed by both parties. A confidential copy must remain in the employees file.
- If this does not resolve the issue, or if they feel uncomfortable doing this, employees may bring their grievances to the manager of human resources (or other designated position). This process should be fully documented and signed by both parties. A confidential copy must remain in the employees file.
- If this does not resolve the issue, employees may bring their grievances to the appropriate senior manager/owner/etc. who will render the final decision. This process should be fully documented and signed by both parties. A confidential copy must remain in the employees file.
Once your grievance system is in place, your employees should be made aware that:
They will not be reprimanded or penalized for bringing their concerns forward.
Their concerns will be taken seriously.
They should make full use of the system, rather than gossip or complain to each other.
They should refrain from making comments that may negatively impact the company either to their peers or to those outside the company.
Create your Grievance/Conflict Resolution System.