If You are Becoming the Complaints Department It's Time for Change

Julie Shenkman
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Human resources departments have a variety of roles in an organization. Often, those roles include handling office complaints and mediating conflicts. When your department is overrun with complaints, however, it can be difficult to handle your other responsibilities. Free up your time and stem the flow of negativity by taking action to change the process.

Adjust Procedures

Chances are, your company has a procedure in place for office complaints. An out-of-control number of incidents can indicate that you have outgrown the existing procedures. This may be the case if your company has experienced a period of growth; the process that works for a few employees is not as effective in a large business. Revisit the policy and add an extra step. If employees currently come to you with any complaint, request that they speak to a supervisor or attempt self-mediation first. If every complaint is treated as a formal complaint, add a step that enables employees to start with a verbal — and paperwork-free — informal complaint. Conduct training to educate employees in the new process, and make sure to add it to the employee handbook.


Human resources professionals are not equipped to handle all office complaints. If a problem falls outside of your expertise or authority, don't be afraid to delegate. Identify the person best-suited to deal with the problem and refer the employee to her. A conflict between team members should go to their direct supervisor, while an interdepartmental issue may require the input of a senior executive. Avoid making the employee feel pushed aside by calling the person immediately to set up a meeting. Remember that delegation is not always possible or appropriate; in some cases, such as when an employee is dealing with an abusive manager, you should handle the problem yourself.

Go Digital

Depending on your company's policies, office complaints can come with a great deal of paperwork. If you find yourself wading through stacks of forms on a daily basis, it may be time to go digital. With an electronic complaint system, employees can fill out the necessary reports on their own. Once the form is submitted, you can review the document and take action as needed. A digital filing system also makes it easier to track patterns, call up old files and stay compliant with union and legal requirements. The process of setting up an electronic system for office complaints can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is important to have support from upper management before proceeding.

When your HR department turns into the complaints department, workload balance and productivity may suffer. By finding a more effective way to handle office complaints, you can ensure that all employees feel supported without overextending yourself and your staff.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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