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Handling employee complaints in an effective manner is considered to be one of the most challenging functions of an HR department. Complaints can include those pertaining to interpersonal conflicts between employees, perceived or actual injustices experienced by them, unsatisfactory work conditions and even sexual harassment.

If not addressed promptly and fairly, complaints can prove to be problematic in the long run because they can lead to lower productivity and morale among employees and in some cases, law suits against the company. Therefore, developing an effective system to resolve employees’ work-related issues is extremely important; such systems should be implemented by HR departments and consist of the following four steps:

1. Acknowledgement. Acknowledge the complaint immediately, and ask the employee to fill in a complaint form; this form should be created by the HR department and include fields such as the date the complaint was sent to HR, the name of the employee, the person they are complaining about, as well as their supervisors, and detailed information pertaining to the nature of the complaint.

2. Investigation. A thorough and unbiased investigation should then be launched. Meetings should be scheduled with the concerned parties to give them a fair chance to present their side of the story and defend themselves against allegations. Information and evidence that is collated should be examined to determine its authenticity, and then an appropriate timeframe should be set for the resolution of the complaint.

3. Resolution. Once the investigation is completed, the HR department must decide what action to take to resolve the complaint. (e.g. sending a warning notice to the accused, or taking disciplinary action.) The plaintiff, the accused and their managers should be notified about the recommended action plan.

4. Follow-up. After the implementation of the decision, follow-up meetings with the concerned parties should be conducted after a few weeks to ensure that the complaint has been resolved and the chances of it arising again have been minimised.


– Mehreen Ahmed

The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmail.com.