Friction will inevitably occur, no matter what size or industry an enterprise falls within. Dealing with employee complaints involves a delicate sense of diplomacy and, for the employer, the need to divorce themselves from the emotion of the situation.

Putting this in practice can prove to be quite challenging if you do not have the right policies and procedures in place. And a large component of that, when managing complaints from employees, is documentation.

Why is Documentation Important?

Documentation is a crucial component of correctly handling employee complaints and grievances. It is evidence that issues were discussed properly, in addition to offering a timeline of how events unfolded. It also serves as a great point of reference should the case need to be examined closer or if legal action arises.

At the end of the day, employers should view documentation as support for their decisions and a way to protect their business in instances of dispute.

How To Document Employee Complaints

Employees who wish to lodge a complaint against their employers have a few options – verbally, via email threads, with an official complaint form, and more.

Regardless of how the complaint was lodged, it is crucial to keep a copy of all communications which should be organised in chronological order.

It is advisable that communications are punctuated by summary statements agreed upon by all involved, preferably with signatures. This ensures everyone is on the same page every step of the way to protect from alternate facts and accusations.

Then What?

Once you’ve documented the complaint, and corroborated from both parties, it is time for the next step.

Invite all parties to offer suggestions on how a satisfactory outcome may be achieved. Not every instance will define a clear right and wrong side. In any case, the resolution should consider both perspectives, as well as aim to be restorative instead of punitive.


While usually confrontational by nature, complaints from employees can be handled without escalation. As demonstrated above, obstacles can be broken down into processes, which can be further broken down into simple steps. All that is required is a strong foundation of workplace policies and procedures to provide clear guidance.

EAP Assist Workplace Mediation

EAP Assist Mediation is an initial, informal & confidential process aimed at helping employees & employers find solutions to disputes about workplace issues. An experienced EAP Assist counsellor will work with all parties to come to an agreement to resolve the dispute during scheduled telephone & online contact. EAP Assist mediations are quick, efficient & have high success rates in resolving disputes conducted in a fashion encouraging the parties to create their own solutions. For more information see: