An employee complaint process aims to provide employees with an effective way to voice their concerns and issues related to the workplace. Establishing a complaint process encourages employees to speak up when they feel something is wrong, allowing employers to take action and improve the working environment for everyone. Complaint processes allow employers to address potential legal violations before serious issues arise that could lead to costly lawsuits. These kind of processes are especially needed now, when grievances are increasing every year.

Informal vs formal complaint process

In the workplace, there are typically two types of complaint processes: formal and informal. The formal complaint process is more structured and involves a set of prescribed steps and procedures that must be followed. This type of process may involve filling out a written complaint form, meeting with a supervisor or manager, and/or providing specific evidence to support the complaint.

In contrast, the informal complaint process is less formal and may involve simply speaking directly with a supervisor or manager, or even just bringing up the issue at a team meeting. This type of process allows for a more casual and immediate resolution to issues, but may not always result in an outcome.

Both types of complaint processes have their advantages and disadvantages. The formal process is often seen as more reliable and thorough, providing a clear structure for addressing complaints and potentially avoiding future issues. However, it can also be more intimidating for employees, and may feel overly burdensome or time-consuming.

On the other hand, the informal complaint process may be more accessible and comfortable for employees, particularly those who are uncomfortable with formal procedures or who have concerns that may not rise to the level of a formal complaint. However, this type of process can also be less structured and may not result in the same level of documentation or accountability.

The choice of process will depend on the specific workplace and the types of complaints that are likely to arise. Both formal and informal processes can be effective in addressing workplace issues, but it is important for employers to carefully consider the needs and experiences of their employees when deciding which process to implement.

All steps involved in creating a complaint process

A complaint process will vary from business to business. Talk to your employees and understand their needs as well as other professionals who have already established their own processes. The main steps usually include:

  • Establishing a process for employees to submit grievances
  • Setting expectations on response time
  • Documenting and tracking grievances
  • Providing guidelines to ensure consistency
  • Sharing relevant resources with employees
  • Developing strategies to prevent retaliation

Establishing a process for employees to submit grievances

When establishing a complaint process, organisations should make sure that employees know their rights and how to submit grievances. This should include providing employees with written information about the complaint process, as well as who is responsible for addressing any problems submitted. Additionally, employers should ensure that employees have a safe and secure platform for submitting their complaints. This can be done by setting up an anonymous complaint box or a secure complaint webform where employees can voice their concerns without fear of retaliation or punishment. If organisations decide to involve third parties in the complaint process, such as legal advisors or external mediators, they should inform employees of this before initiating any investigations.

Companies should stress the importance of documenting issues before they lodge a complaint. The more evidence they have the easier the process will be as they will be able to support their claims and provide more content for assessment and analysis by the investigator. The documenting of the issue after the complaint has been received may not be as effective without the right files.

Organisations should also encourage open communication between management and employees throughout the complaint process to ensure that both parties feel respected and heard. Employers should take sufficient time to investigate all complaints thoroughly and provide feedback on any decisions made in response to the complaint. Lastly, it is important for employers to document all complaint processes carefully in order to both protect themselves legally and maintain records of employee issues in case they are ever needed in the future.

Setting expectations on response time

Organisations should set expectations for how quickly grievances should be responded to and addressed by management. This could involve establishing a timeline that outlines when each stage of the complaint process must be completed. The timeline should explain when complaint forms must be filled out, when interviews will take place, or when decisions need to be made. Companies should ensure that employees are kept informed throughout the complaint process and provide timely updates on the progress of their complaint.

This may include communication from employers about any additional information needed for complaint resolution, as well as regular status reports about where the complaint is in the investigation process. Our clients manage this step by using Polonious which provides automatic case updates to relevant parties. By setting specific standards for complaint response times and ensuring that employees are aware of them, organisations can create an environment of accountability and trust between employers and employees.

Businesses should inform employees and the investigation team of what consequences are in place if complaint response times are not met. This could involve disciplinary action against supervisors who fail to meet complaint deadlines or provide new updates. Employers may want to consider offering incentives for managers who demonstrate effective complaint-resolution skills or resolve grievances promptly. These measures help ensure that complaints are addressed effectively while also motivating management teams to prioritise employee concerns, fostering greater trust within their organisation while minimising legal risks down the line.

complaint process

Documenting and tracking grievances

Documenting and tracking grievances is critical in ensuring the complaint process produces better results that can have an impact in future complaints resolutions. Organisations should create a system for documenting all grievance-related activities, such as who received the complaint, when it was received and the steps taken to investigate the issue. This information should be stored securely and confidentially so that only those involved in the complaint process have access to it. Companies should also monitor each complaint from submission to resolution and document all decisions made along the way. This will ensure that grievances are addressed properly and provide employers with evidence if there are any disputes or appeals about the complaint process in the future.

Organisations may also choose to use standardised complaint forms for employees to fill out when submitting their grievances. These forms can provide employers with more information about what occurred, who was involved and what steps were taken to address the complaint. Standardised forms also make it easier for organisations to monitor complaints over time and spot any trends or patterns in employee issues that may indicate larger systemic problems within the organisation.

Another advantage of tracking complaints is the increase in employee satisfaction. Employers should document whether each complaint has been resolved adequately and follow up with employees afterwards to assess their level of satisfaction with how their grievance was handled. By surveying employees after a complaint has been resolved, employers can uncover areas where improvement is needed. Having an organised system for tracking complaints allows businesses to identify which areas are at risk of becoming problem spots in order to proactively address them before serious issues arise.

Employers should also consider creating periodic reports on submitted complaints and analysing this data over time for further insights into organisational issues or trends among employees that could benefit from additional attention or support from management. Such reports can help senior management teams make informed decisions about how best to handle employee issues moving forward and inform strategies for improving workplace culture and morale overall. In this way, documenting and tracking employee grievances can help create a healthier work environment where all parties feel heard and respected.

Providing guidelines to ensure consistency

Companies should create clear guidelines for responding to each complaint to ensure consistency in the complaint process. This could include outlining how to investigate the complaint, who will be the parties involved in the process and the timeframe of the investigation. Businesses should also define what constitutes a legitimate complaint and list any procedures that must be followed when receiving or filing a complaint. Employers may also choose to establish a team within their organisation to review complaints and provide feedback on how they can be effectively handled. This can help ensure that all employees feel their concerns are being taken seriously and treated fairly while providing employers with an impartial third-party perspective on their complaint processes.

Companies should also seek feedback from employees about the complaint process itself. Regular surveys can provide valuable insight into how employees perceive the complaint process and identify areas of weakness. Additionally, employers should meet regularly with staff members to discuss any potential issues with their complaint processes as well as solicit suggestions for improvement. By gathering this information from employees directly, employers can make sure that their complaint process is meeting employee needs and addressing grievances effectively.

Businesses should also document responses to complaints for future reference. This includes recording all communication between parties involved in a complaint as well as the reasoning behind decisions. Documentation of these details allows for greater accountability during investigations by ensuring that decisions are based on facts rather than emotions, rumours or personal opinions of those involved in the complaint process.

Sharing relevant resources with employees

Organisations should provide employees with resources that can help them throughout the complaint process. This may include providing training on how to effectively communicate grievances, as well as offering legal advice or other support services. While EAP is a good start, employers may choose to use other services that are more applicable to the issues at hand.

Employers should also provide clear guidance on available channels of communication and who employees can reach out to with their complaints. This could involve having designated team members within the organisation or offering 24/7 hotlines that allow employees to voice their concerns anonymously if they choose to. Providing such resources will give employees a sense of assurance and make them feel supported during difficult situations.

Managers may also want to consider implementing an open-door policy for any complaint-related issues. This policy gives staff members the opportunity to speak directly with a supervisor or manager about their complaint without fear of reprisal or retribution from management. Encouraging direct dialogue between employers and employees can help foster a more trusting work environment where individuals feel comfortable voicing their concerns. This type of policy allows senior managers to assess complaints quickly and identify any potential issues within the organisation that require further attention from leadership teams

Developing strategies to prevent retaliation

Businesses have a responsibility to develop strategies to prevent retaliation against employees who file complaints. To do this, employers may want to consider implementing complaint confidentiality protocols that protect the identity of an employee who files a complaint and ensure that their problem is kept private by management teams. Additionally, organisations should provide adequate training for supervisors and managers on complaint procedures and outline specific consequences for any retaliatory behaviour. This could include suspensions or termination to send a clear message that misconduct will not be tolerated in the workplace.

Please remember

The effectiveness of the complaint process heavily relies on great collaboration between employers and employees. It is not enough to communicate once and twice. It requires constant constructive feedback that can contribute to the creation of a better working process. Systems will make the complaint process easier to handle.

Our clients use Polonious when they need help with investigating a complaint. We assist the company and the investigators involved in coming to a productive and efficient outcome. We streamline tasks and create a smoother experience by allowing integration with different software. Our customers can use Polonious to store all critical information and files knowing that everything will be kept securely for as long as it is needed. Do you want to know more about our system? Reach out, we will be happy to show you!