As a small business, you probably don't want to spend the time and resources or have the need to develop an involved procedure for dealing with employee complaints. Instead, you may want to have some general guidelines so that employees know what to do if they have a complaint. A set of basic procedures helps you make sure that you treat all complaints in a consistent manner.
Your informal complaint procedure can be just about anything you want to make it. Some common procedures are:
- an open door policy
- periodic employee meetings
Open door policy. An open door policy is just what it sounds like. Basically, you make it known to employees that when they have a problem or complaint, they are free to come to you with it. This is a good approach if you have a relatively small number of employees and a reasonably happy workforce. If you have a lot of employees with many problems, you're setting yourself up for day after day of meetings with employees.
If you adopt the open door policy, make it known that, while employees can come to you at any time, a detailed follow-up on their complaint or problem might not take place at that moment, depending on your schedule or business commitments. Explain that, in some cases, an appointment will have to be scheduled when the employee can come in and discuss the issue with you.
Periodic employee meetings. If your employees work as a team or if work requires periodic meetings anyway, you may want to allot some time during your meeting for complaints or problems that employees can share. This approach allows you to address an issue only once instead of individually. Allow employees the opportunity to speak with you apart from the group. Some problems or complaints may be not be suitable for group discussion.
Communicating your policy. Be sure to communicate basic information to employees about what to do if they have a complaint. In a "policy" of this sort:
- explain that your business cares about its employees and wants to help solve any workplace problems that may arise
- encourage employees to come forward with problems and assure them they will be taken seriously, kept confidential, and handled fairly and consistently
- explain how employees should go about voicing a complaint (visit in person, submit a written complaint, schedule a time)