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Why Employee Complaints Are Actually A Good Thing

Posted by Xamax on 29/11/17 16:17

"This process is inefficient," one employee might say. Another might complain, "I can't get anything done in the office when the music is blasting." A third might say, "I didn't like how this manager handled my complaint." Another employee might declare, "The company's Facebook didn't portray the company in the right light. I hate it!" These are just a few of the many complaints you might hear if you're an office that's open to employee criticism. It may seem overwhelming to be told what's wrong with your business, how employees could be happier, and the fact that the break room kettle has been broken for two weeks, but complaints are actually beneficial for many reasons - one of which is that it demonstrates that your employees actually care about where they work. It shows it's more than just a job to them.

why employee complaints are actually a good thing - keep people happy so you can grow


Here are reasons why employee complaints are actually a good thing:


Complaints demonstrate that employees are invested

Here's an example. Let's call this employee Sharon. 20 years ago when she worked at a gym early in her university days, Sharon marches into her bosses office one day proclaiming loudly that the new university newspaper gym ad sends the wrong message to potential customers on campus. It's sexist. It's inappropriate. Unfortunately, Sharon does so in front of two clients. Later that day, the boss reprimands her and tells her never ever say anything negative in front of clients. Sharon never complains again, but she also doesn't care about her job again. It's just a job now.
The boss should have used that opportunity as a way to discuss how the complaint could have been handled in a better way. He should have taken on board the validity of her criticism. Was there something to it? He should have recognised that Sharon was simply lacking in communication skills and not to be dismissed outright.
Complaining employees aren't bad employees and shouldn't be treated as such. These employees are often passionate about the organisation. After all, why bother complaining if they didn't care at all about the outcome of the company? Complaints should be addressed and handled with care. The manager should listen to the complaint, but also direct that complaint in a way that the employee is communicating effectively.
It's important to ask questions and get to the root cause of complaints. Some complaints are legitimate and others are just complaints, but nothing should be dismissed outright.

Complaints provide an opportunity to brainstorm solutions

When an employee complains, they rarely complain without offering solutions. They may say x is wrong, but we can fix it with y solution. It may just be worth trialling the solution. You may use the opportunity to talk to your team and see if other team members have the same complaint and see what solutions they bring. Having an open floor where employees feel they can change their workplace for the better is always a great idea. After all, we spend about 1/3 of our lives at work and 1/3 of our lives sleeping, so we ought to be happy at work. Of course, not everyone will be happy with absolutely every aspect of their job, but if you can make your employees happier and more productive - and that's done so initially through a complaint, then why not?

Complaints are a learning process

Before an employee has brought something up, you may not even have been aware there was a problem in the break room with the microwave or the toaster. These may seem like small matters, but replacing those items increased employee happiness and is the first step. Handling complaints is a learning process. You can learn what's wrong with your company and find ways to fix it, which makes it a better place to work for employees, a better company for customers, and - most likely - a better place for you to work too.

Complaints allow you to grow as a company

As a company, you hear only 1 in 26 customer complaints (if you have customers), so that means that those other customers who don't complain just stop being customers. As a business, you can see the direct impact of, say, losing 25 customers even per quarter. Employee complaints are no different. Only 1 in so many will actually complain about an issue, and when someone is speaking it, it's most likely because many have complained behind the scenes. See complaints as a way for your company to grow. If you handle complaints appropriately and productively - even if you make mistakes in the process at first - you'll allow your employees to know that they work in a place that they are allowed to invest in, speak up, present ideas, and be heard. All of these factors mean that you can grow as a company over time.

If complaints stop, you may be in trouble

If you don't address complaints productively, you'll stop hearing them. Employees will keep their thoughts to themselves, which means they won't be as happy with their job. They won't feel there ideas are legitimised or heard, and they won't bother. They also won't bother investing emotionally in your business outcome.
Your best and brightest employees will never leave a company in which they feel valued, appreciated, and overpaid. But many managers complain when the best employees leave. Your company will lose money and valuable time when good people walk out. Common complaints are having bad management, being overworked - they feel they are punished for great performance - good work isn't rewarded, employees aren't valued, commitments aren't honoured, creativity isn't engaged, intellectual challenges aren't met, skills aren't enhanced, and the wrong people are promoted and hired. It's time to take a look at your company and think if you are in danger of any of these behind-the-scenes complaints. If so, you may lose valuable people, and you may find yourself dwindling instead of growing.

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Topics: Benefits Of Workwear