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Is Your Complaint Valid?
Today’s workplace environment encompasses an economy that’s still teetering on the edge of adversity. When you add in busy and demanding lifestyles—both yours and your coworkers’—you have a potential recipe for disaster. Before you look for an effective complaint letter format to human resources management, think about the top reasons why people complain.
- Do you feel unappreciated? Sometimes a problem that seems overwhelming boils down to one simple issue—that you don’t feel valued by your manager. Take a minute to think about what’s troubling you and pinpoint the exact cause.
- Are you overworked—and underpaid? We mentioned the economy, and it’s true in these trying times that people are asked to accomplish more within the framework of a workday. And we aren’t getting paid any more when we are able to do that.
- Is money really an issue for your household? The truth is that money is tight everywhere, and the consequences vary. Some companies have eliminated positions and put their employees on unemployment lines. Others are holding steady, but they are asking people to stay on board through a wage freeze. Yet others require workers to take a pay cut—and 10% seems to be a pretty average figure. Still other companies are dolling out meager raises of 2-3% but the health insurance benefits increase by at least that much.
- Is there a salary dispute? Many employees begin a complaint feeling that they’ve been unfairly compensated for performing overtime hours, but be certain you understand the law. If you’ve worked overtime on Monday and Tuesday, for example, but there is a holiday on Friday, you will not be paid time-and-a-half for your extra hours on Monday and Tuesday unless your total hours spent on the job for the given week exceed 40. (Other laws may apply if you do piecework or if you belong to a union.)
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Assess Your Current Level of Contentment
If you are troubled by any of the above, stop and take a minute to think about your options. Write down five things you like about your job. Think about your career goals, and ask yourself if this position is taking you where you want to go. Consider your best alternative employment options. If you think there’s a place that will pay you more money for doing less work, ask yourself why you’re not there already.
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Some Things Require Action…
What if you are bothered by another type of situation? There are circumstances you shouldn’t have to put up with. They include:
- Discrimination, whether it’s age-related, racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, medical, or any other type. Medical includes having a physical disability or a medical illness.
- Harassment, which means something that makes you feel uncomfortable, or causes a hostile work environment, whether you’re a man or a woman.
- Bullying, when another employee, especially a peer, behaves maliciously toward you, including stalking and physical intimidation or assault.
- Unjust accusation, whether it regards your ability to perform your job or breaking a real or imagined rule.
If your problem fits into one of these categories, your first step should be to consult your company policy handbook for the steps to take when you have a grievance. If you don’t have a handbook, you can ask for one without saying why you want it.
Most likely the policy will advise you to discuss your complaint with your supervisor. If you have done that, make a notation of the date and jot down notes about the conversation. If the situation remains unresolved, or if your supervisor is the problem, you can proceed with a letter to your human resources manager.
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How to Write the Letter
When you write your letter, be certain it’s prepared neatly, typed on a computer. If you don't have a printer to use at home, go to your local library. For an example of an appropriate complaint letter format to human resources, download this sample letter and insert your own information. Print it and read it carefully to be certain you’ve deleted irrelevant information.
When proceeding with your letter, be certain you know the name of your human resources manager. Address your complaint to the right person for your department. Maintain a calm tone in the letter. This is not the place to express anger and make accusatory remarks. Simply state your case and request a meeting.
You will see from our sample complaint letter format to the human resources person that your letter should contain:
- An opening in which you state that you have a complaint that you want to document.
- What the complaint is and when it happened.
- Describe briefly what happened.
- State the attempts you have made to resolve the situation.
- Finish by saying what resolution you would like to see and request a response from the HR manager.
No matter how difficult it is, make every effort to keep your letter to one page. You can always add more at a later date. You do not need to say that you are a good employee—the manager will already know that. If your complaint is against your direct supervisor, provide the name of another department director with whom you have a good working relationship who can attest to your professional qualities.
Think long and hard before you deliver your letter. Companies are not supposed to retaliate if someone comes forward with a complaint, but the truth is that many times they do. That's why it's so important to remain calm and document every step.
If you've decided to proceed, take your letter personally to the human resources department. If it is located in a distant building, mail it in an envelope marked “Confidential." Call the HR manager to let him know that you’ve sent a letter about a topic important to you or send him an email stating this. Be careful about uploading your letter to your email if you think someone monitors your email activity. Do not fax it, because it will be exposed to prying eyes in the fax receiving area.
The company handbook should tell you when to expect a response, but generally, unless the manager is sick or on vacation, you should hear something in five business days. In the meantime, stay calm and keep doing your job!