Employee complaints should be taken seriously by managers. It is essential for companies to handle grievances in a prompt and professional manner, as complaints can reveal underlying issues that could impact the company’s bottom line. When issues arise, managers should take the time to listen to employees and understand their perspectives. In the 2021-2022 financial year the Australian Commission received an increased amount of complaints, almost reaching 4,000. The increase is worrying, highlighting the importance of working collaboratively with employees on a complaint process can help uncover the root cause of their problems and allows managers to address these issues quickly and effectively.

What is the best way to approach a complaint?

The process starts before a complaint is even lodged. The importance of proactiveness is always stressed for companies as it can bring many advantages and protect them in the long run. However, this can’t always prevent complaints from occurring. So what do employers have to do?

  • Create a friendly environment
  • Acknowledge the complaint
  • Ask questions
  • Identify potential solutions
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting

Create a friendly environment

Creating a safe, non-judgmental space for employees to voice their concerns is essential for companies looking to create a friendly environment where employees are not scared to speak up. To create such an environment, employers should take steps to ensure their complaints process is intuitive and easily accessible. This could include introducing online forms, conducting anonymous surveys or making boxes available in the office. Managers should also ensure that employees are aware of all the channels through which complaints can be filed. Training sessions on how issues should be handled and what the consequences of inappropriate feedback may be, can also help cultivate a supportive environment where problems can be shared openly without fear of retribution.

Managers may need to create an informal complaint process that involves emails or a simple conversation to make the employee feel comfortable. It is not enough for managers to do their core tasks. One of their responsibilities includes being a person their employees can feel comfortable with and open up to.

Employers should also provide resources for employees to use when filing grievances about issues like discrimination or harassment in the workplace. This might involve referring employees to an HR representative or other support services available within the company or outside the organisation. Establishing a culture where speaking up is welcomed, and valued encourages employees to submit any grievances they may have with confidence that they will be addressed appropriately.

Acknowledge the complaint

Acknowledging complaints from employees is necessary to ensure an effective resolution. Employers should strive to let their staff members know that complaints are heard and understood by actively listening and engaging in conversations about the issue. Encouraging employees to explain their situation in detail can help managers gain a better understanding of the underlying issues, as well as any potential solutions. Managers should also display empathy for the employee’s situation, and be sure to seek clarification when necessary. This allows employees to feel heard and respected.

Employers need to show appreciation for the employee’s feedback and willingness to work together on the issue. One way to do this is by expressing gratitude and providing positive reinforcement when appropriate. Employers should take the time to thank employees for bringing complaints forward, as it shows they care about creating a better workplace environment. Additionally, employers should strive to create an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect, so that employees feel comfortable voicing their struggles without fear of retribution or criticism. This can be done through active listening and engaging in honest conversations with employees about their concerns and how these issues can be addressed effectively.

Employers should also strive to recognise employees’ efforts and openness, even when the resolution may not have resulted in the way desired by either party. Providing encouragement for those who raise issues in good faith can help foster a more collaborative working environment where everyone feels appreciated and valued regardless of outcomes. Similarly, recognising employees who take initiative in finding solutions or trying to resolve complaints without having to resort to outside help can act as an incentive for others to follow suit in the future.

By appreciating feedback and showing willingness to work together on the relevant problem, employers create a stronger foundation for successful conflict resolution and employee satisfaction within their organisation. By acknowledging complaints in this manner, employers can create a better workplace.


Ask questions

Employers should also ask questions that can help gain a deeper understanding of the issue, allowing for a more meaningful resolution. For example, if complaints are related to a workplace conflict involving multiple parties, employers should seek more details from each party involved. This could include asking questions about what led to the disagreement and how it could have been handled differently. Additionally, employers should enquire about any potential solutions that each party feels would address the issue in a productive manner. By taking an active role in investigating grievances, employers can ensure complaints are taken care of as fairly and effectively as possible.

Employers should ask employees why they are feeling dissatisfied or frustrated with their experiences in the workplace. Questions like this allow managers to better understand any issues that may be leading to problems and allows them to proactively address those issues before they become larger problems. By asking detailed follow-up questions regarding complaints, employers can learn more about their employees’ needs and preferences when it comes to resolving complaints. Through this process of inquiry and exploration, employers can ensure conflicts are handled without further aggravating employee discontentment or anger levels.

Identify potential solutions

The need for solutions is mentioned at every point of the complaint process. One way to do this is by involving other stakeholders who may have insights on how grievances can be efficiently resolved. This could include consulting with members of Human Resources or other departments within the organisation who may have better insight into certain problems or policies related to the issue at hand.

Having input from multiple sources allows employers to consider alternative solutions they may not have otherwise considered which could be more effective in resolving complaints without creating additional problems down the line. Collaborating with employees is beneficial not only for duty-related tasks but also for improving the workplace as a whole. When done correctly, this strategy helps foster trust between employer and employee while also allowing for creative problem-solving strategies which benefit all parties involved

Schedule a follow-up meeting

The final step of the complaint process is a follow-up meeting to assess the results of the actions. After complaints have been investigated and solutions have been proposed to address the issue in a meaningful way, it is time to check in with the employees. It is necessary for employers to take further steps beyond just proposing solutions—they must also ensure those solutions work as intended. This can be done by scheduling follow-up meetings with employees who have raised complaints to evaluate how well the resolution is working and whether or not additional issues have arisen as a result of measures that were suggested and implemented.

Follow-up meetings provide employers with an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of their chosen resolution while allowing employees to voice any concerns they may still have regarding the complaint’s result or its progress. By engaging in regular check-ins after complaints are resolved, employers can stay on top of everything and understand what the next steps are going forward. Additionally, this allows them to show that they genuinely care about employee satisfaction and well-being by taking an active role in ensuring complaints are handled successfully from start to finish. During follow-up meetings, both parties should also discuss strategies for avoiding similar problems in the future so these issues don’t become recurring problems within the workplace environment.

In addition to verbal conversations, employers can also utilise nonverbal forms of communication such as surveys or questionnaires to gauge employee sentiment about the resolution. Sending out anonymous feedback surveys can give companies a more objective view of how employees feel about the business’s efforts, while still allowing them to remain anonymous if they wish to do so.

Employers should also make it clear that complaints will not be punished in any way and encourage further dialogue between both parties during follow-up meetings by providing support services such as counselling or mediation services when needed. By taking these extra steps towards properly following up with employees, organisations demonstrate their commitment towards fostering an open dialogue between both parties in order to maintain their workplace culture and cultivate a successful working relationship.

A few things to remember

A successful and effective complaint process needs strong leaders who are open-minded and willing to listen. Managers should try to collect as much information as possible when responding to complaints. This ensures that underlying problems are addressed properly before dismissing complaints as insignificant. Employers need to communicate effectively with their staff throughout each step of the complaint process.

At Polonious we make it easier for our clients to investigate complaints, with a streamlined but rigorous and transparent complaint process. Our system provides them with a space to store interview notes, evidence they may need or other relevant information that will help them achieve a smoother complaint process. Our deep and detailed security configuration ensures that all internal investigations are highly confidential so employees feel safer about coming forward. Are you looking for a system that reduces administrative investigation costs and saves time? Request a demo and see how we can help you!