First Grown Up Job Guide: Reporting a Grievance

By March 27, 2018For Talent

Workplace grievances can be worse for those new to the workforce. Without experience, it’s hard to determine when complaints are justified, or when a line has been crossed. Reporting a grievance can be very intimidating when you’re trying to make a good impression upon coworkers and bosses.

If it’s your first career job, you might not even know the recommended procedure for reporting an issue. Grievances like this could be anything from sexual harassment to the setting of impossible deadlines. None of which should be tolerated in the workplace.

Follow our useful guide to know the best approach on reporting grievances in the workplace.

Take Detailed Notes

Regardless of whether you’re reporting a once off grievance or a continuous pattern of behaviour, take as many detailed notes as you possibly can. This will ensure that your case is clear and concise, and can’t be disputed or debated by the other party. Record your evidence with time and dates, explaining the scenario as impartially as possible. Observe who else has witnessed the behaviour, they can be called upon to support your claims later if necessary.

Don’t Discuss Your Case with Anyone Else

If the case you’re making becomes the subject of office gossip, your chances of finding resolution will undoubtedly weaken. If others in the office know of your complaints, they may try to get involved or pick a side. A game of Chinese whispers is bound to commence! This complicates proceedings and gives them an opportunity to prepare a falsified counter argument, before you’ve even made yours.  

Assess the Severity of the Case

How much has the behaviour affected you? Does it require formal action, or casual interjection by a HR representative? Head of HR at Jobbio, Aimee O’Mahoney, believes that where possible going down the informal route is better as “raising the issue as soon as possible usually resolves matters quickly and discreetly”. However, when a complaint is more serious, such as discriminatory behaviour or sexual harassment, it’s best to follow the company’s formal procedures.

Research Company Policy

Every workplace should have a procedural guidebook, which sets out the rules and ethos of the company. If you file your complaint in the way this document outlines, HR must follow up in a similarly appropriate manner. Pretty often it’ll be sitting in your Google Drive from when you first started in the job! Here at Jobbio, our guide book has a formal procedure which reads as follows,

“Where formal complaints have been made, then the employee should contact their manager as soon as possible. If this is inappropriate, then the employee should contact another person in authority such as another Department Manager or the CEO. The person making the complaint will be required to put their allegation in writing. In the interests of natural justice the alleged bully or harasser will be made aware of the nature of the complaint, his or her right to representation and will be given every opportunity to rebut the detailed allegations made”.

Organise a Meeting with HR

Face to face meetings are the best way to get a serious point across. Send an email to a senior member of HR staff, giving an indication as to the nature of your request. In person, it’ll be easier to express the emotional distress that this situation caused. You should leave a copy of your written account with the department, for their future reference and further analysis.

Follow Up

If you’re unhappy with the outcome, ask HR for another face to face meeting. Express your disappointment at how the situation was dealt with, and request further context as to how the decision was made. Tell them how the behaviour in question is being condoned and supported. If they refuse to go back on their decision, consider taking up the issue with the company CEO or reaching out to a trade union for support.

Going Forward

If you continue to work with the staff members in question, you must prepare for underlying tension. Office politics can get messy! Particularly for someone in their first grown up job, this isn’t an ideal environment. In cases where tension has become severe, a formal mediation may be a good way to rebuild working relationships. Companies should have a culture of supporting staff, being open about grievances and finding new ways to work together. Therefore it’s their responsibility to make sure you feel comfortable and that you feel supported after reporting a grievance. However, as a last resort, a transfer to another branch could always be requested.

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Author Jack Maguire

Jack Maguire is a recent English Studies graduate, content writer for the Jobbio blog, freelance journalist and podcast creator.

More posts by Jack Maguire

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