It is a best practice to develop a system for employees to communicate their concerns and create a process for addressing them. Handling employee complaints or grievances in a professional manner will go a long way towards developing a company culture where your employees feel comfortable speaking up and confident that their concerns will be taken seriously. Here are some key steps not to overlook:
Figure out the Logistics
Who is going to handle the receipt of the communications? Consider providing employees multiple avenues for reporting concerns, both within and outside their chain of command. Anonymous channels such as online surveys or comment boxes can be beneficial in identifying broad issues in the workplace, but make it challenging to address direct concerns. Regardless of how you receive the communication, employees should be assured that any concerns are taken seriously and will be handled with discretion.
Make it Official
Create a system and let your employees know that their thoughts are important and they are being heard. Put your procedures in writing in your employee handbook so you can ensure that all employees are aware of what they need to do when an issue arises. Ongoing communication of the policy will also reinforce the organizational commitment to resolving concerns.
Acknowledge all Concerns
No matter if the concern is big or small, let your employee know that you have heard or received it, and that you will review the concern. It may be a quick fix or it may take some time to resolve. Provide an estimated timeframe for getting back with the employee and letting them know the likely next steps. Some people may fear retaliation, so you should do your best to handle sensitive information with professionalism and discretion.
What should get addressed first? Any concern regarding your employees’ safety should be top priority. This includes complaints involving reports of unsafe working conditions, bullying or sexual harassment. In these serious cases, it is crucial to investigate any complaints thoroughly and promptly. Consult your HR or legal experts to ensure you are following proper procedures to protect your employees as well as your business from a potential lawsuit.
Don’t Rush to Make a Judgment
Thoroughly review the concern and gather information. You need to find out what is really going on and determine if there is a policy being violated, a personal conflict, inappropriate behavior or maybe some other underlying issue. Collect all of the facts and objective details before making a judgment call.
Keep documentation of the concern and response from management. It’s important to follow up with the employee at a later date to ensure action has been taken and the issue has been resolved. You should periodically take stock of your employee communication history to determine if this information can reveal the need for improvement or a policy change in a certain area.
Effectively managing your employees’ concerns will create a more satisfied staff and demonstrate that you are committed to creating a fair workplace. Having a system in place is also a crucial part of planning ahead to mitigate your risk of a costly litigation.