How to Manage Anonymous Workplace Complaints

How to Manage Anonymous Workplace Complaints

We’ve put some focus in recent months on workplace investigations through our series of videos outlining frequently asked questions on the subject. Today we’re covering a question that wasn’t covered in the series but which has arisen a few times and which we have had some success in addressing - How to manage anonymous workplace complaints.

Below is a video (and transcript) I recorded following a client raising the issue with us. Here are the key takeaways from the video:

  • Anonymous complaints sometimes name a respondent and sometimes they do not (i.e. they refer to the alleged ‘offender’ without actually naming them).
  • Sometimes they are isolated and only made by one person and at other times they may be made by many persons.
  • The key determinant as to whether action should or should not be taken by management is whether or not the allegations would amount to a breach of policy if they were substantiated.
  • Where the respondent or alleged offender has been named, often there is insufficient detail for management to approach the respondent.
  • Where the options for management to take action appear to be limited, it’s best not to ignore the situation and hope it will resolve itself. Workplace problems rarely do, so the best approach is to engage a third party expert in workplace investigations.
  • Though direct investigation options may be limited, a discrete cultural review or survey will often uncover the facts of the issue at hand. Equally, it may also identify some positive strengths of the workplace that management may not be aware of.
  • It would be timely of management, that upon receipt of an anonymous complaint there is reflection to consider why the complaint has not been raised through the appropriate channels as per policy. Is the complainant fearful of victimisation or have they raised complaints previously and believed they have not been heard, they were not taken seriously, or t hat their complaints were not adequately addressed? If these are either real or perceived barriers to following policy then such matters do need to be addressed by the organisation.

If your business is is experiencing anonymous workplace complaints or you wish to ensure your policies are robust and that staff are aware of the policy regarding anonymous complaints, please email us for more information.

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