Employee complaints are not a new concept in the workplace. Handling these complaints, however, has taken on new skills and techniques, and each one is specific to the problem at hand. Employers must protect themselves while also protecting the rights of their employees, and the line between these two actions is a thin one. If you want to learn how to effectively and efficiently manage the complaints your employees’ issue to your HR department, there are a few methods you can try to make it easier.

Know the Difference Between Serious Allegations and Baseless Complaints

One of the most actionable ways to manage employee complaints is to know the difference between a serious allegation and one that’s not important. There is a difference, but it’s subjective in the eyes of your employees. They don’t always know the difference when they feel as if they’re being mistreated or personally attacked. For example, an employee who complains that their boss is sexually harassing them has a valid and serious allegation you should take seriously whether it’s true or not.

An employee who is complaining that their boss or coworker never refills the coffee pot after pouring the last bit of coffee is complaining for no reason. Yes, it’s aggravating when people don’t do what’s considered right or appropriate, but it’s not against policy or corporate rule to walk away from an empty coffee pot without refilling it. It might not make that person anyone’s favorite, but it’s a baseless complaint without any course of action.

Knowing the difference allows you to stop complaints before they begin, and it allows you to get a better handle on your own time. If you’re constantly following up on baseless complaints, you don’t have time to do your own job.

Know Your Team

Know your team, and know who they are. You need to know if there is a person on your team who is prone to being hyper and loud. When someone comes into your office to tell you they feel they’re being yelled at all the time by this individual, you already know this person is just that way. This helps to calm down employees, and it helps you know how to follow-up and handle the situation. You need to know your team so that you know immediately how to handle specific complaints.

Ask Important Follow-Up Questions

When an employee has a complaint, you must ask the right follow-up questions. You need to take notes, and you need to note every detail they share. Not only does this help the employee to feel as if you are doing your part in making their problem better, but it also allows you to get the entire story. You don’t want surprises coming your way when you investigate a problem you’re having at work.

Have An Open Door Policy

An open-door policy allows your employees to know you value your time, their time, and this company. They need to know you are accessible, but you do need to make it clear you have ground rules. Make it clear all complaints are welcome because you do value the safety, security, and happiness of your employees, but make it know you need to have evidence, you need the full story, and there must be something to the complaint that’s more than a personal grudge or hurt.

Don’t Notify the Supervisor of All Problems

Your employees need to know they can trust you with their words. An employment law firm attorney will tell you that you are not under any obligation to keep any sort of confidentiality between yourself and the employees in your office, but it’s helpful that they know they can trust you. Don’t go to their supervisor or their boss or their coworkers to talk about their complaints. Don’t use their name when you follow-up with someone who is causing problems or not doing what’s expected. Keep their involvement as confidential as possible, and you will always have someone who trusts you enough to come to you when they have issues.

Communicate Your Expectations

Every office has expectations, and it’s helpful to make sure they are clearly listed. Have an employee handbook that allows you to put an end to things that aren’t important. When your employees know the rules in advance, they are less likely to complain about things that waste time or aren’t important. For example, an employee handbook that clearly states what’s acceptable and not acceptable can guide your employees in figuring out whether they should file a complaint or let something go because it’s not considered illegal or frowned upon in the workplace.

Call A Meeting

If you find that there is a basis to any complaint, call a meeting with the person who complained to discuss what you’ve found and how you want to handle it. Let this person know that you’ve either had no more evidence presented to back up their claim, but that you will have a staff meeting to discuss the issue at hand so that it’s not a problem in the future. If you have evidence that something is going on, ask the employee how they want to see things handled. Asking for their input and discussing your options helps them feel heard, valued, and important.

How you handle employee complaints is up to you, but these actionable items help your employees feel valued and understood. It’s not a secret that people who feel their bosses care for them and appreciate them work harder and more productively at work. One way to guarantee they continue to work hard and do what you need them to do is to make sure they are safe and happy at work. Teamwork is helpful, but making expectations clear is the most beneficial way to put an end to the behavior you don’t condone. Bringing employees in on the situation is another way to make them feel as if you take their feelings seriously.

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