Any business that has employees is going to encounter employee complaints at some point. Being prepared for workplace personnel issues is critical to responding in a way that satisfies the employee and protects you from lawsuits. Four common personnel issues that can damage your business, if dealt with improperly, are harassment, discrimination, theft and violence. Creating a consistent process to deal with these types of issues will protect your business and help you sustain a positive working environment for your employees.
The best way to manage harassment complaints is to have an anti-harassment policy in place that each employee reads and agrees to upon hiring. Because there are laws against workplace harassment, it's necessary to make it clear to employees what types of conduct are prohibited, and what the consequences are when harassment occurs. In the event of an employee complaining about harassment in the workplace, it's necessary to interview both parties to ascertain what actually happened. If disciplinary action is required, it should be done consistently, and a follow-up training for employees should occur so employees are reminded of the anti-harassment policy.
Discrimination complaints continue to rise in businesses of all sizes as our society becomes more diverse. Unfortunately, discrimination claims often fall into a gray area due to perception. In other words, an employee gets passed over for a promotion and feels that it's because of his race, gender or nationality. The best way to respond to accusations of discrimination is to be prepared and keep employee files updated. Ensure that every employee is treated fairly, and that employee reviews are held on a regular basis for every employee. The best defense in a discrimination complaint is to show the facts of why a particular person was chosen over another for a promotion or special assignment.
Missing inventory, accounting irregularities and office supplies that need replenishing more often than necessary often means that you are dealing with theft. Approaching employee theft has to be done in a very delicate manner, because you don't want to offend your honest employees. Companies that institute security checks in their workplace are less likely to experience theft in the workplace. For instance, a retail store can institute bag checks at the end of the night for employees finishing their shifts. As long as the way you are treating employees is consistent, they will generally understand the reason for the checks.
There is no instance where violence in the workplace should be tolerated. Businesses should always have a plan in place to deal with complaints of violence or any indication they see that violence might occur. Any incidence of workplace violence must be handled swiftly and delicately. If the situation is volatile, it is appropriate to bring in outside law enforcement before confronting an employee who has exhibited violent behavior. With the incidence of deadly workplace violence on the rise, there is no reason to take a chance with your employees' safety and security.
Based in Miami, Kristen Bennett has been writing for business and pleasure since 1999. Bennett's work has appeared online at MarketWatch, The Motley Fool and in several internal company publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.