It is inevitable that at some point an issue is going to arise at work that you are going to want to complain about. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are working for a bad company, but you aren’t going to agree with everything all the time. Maybe a colleague has said or done something in appropriate, or there is a new company policy that you do not agree with. Whatever it is, the time will come where you want to speak up. But what should you do when the time comes to make a complaint?

Speak with your boss

Before you do anything formal, such as writing into HR or the CEO you should always speak with your boss first. You might think that is pointless, as maybe your boss has done nothing to help in the past. But you have to at least give them the opportunity to help resolve the issue. For example, maybe one colleague is bullying another in the team. Putting that into a formal complaint to HR will lead to a formal investigation. By letting your boss know first, it gives them a chance to resolve the issue. Of course, if they don’t, then that is a very different scenario.

Provide solutions not problems

Its easy to complain. Anyone can do it. You can find a complaint about pretty much anything going on in the world today. But what value does complaining bring? If you want to be heard, you also need to provide constructive solutions. A company policy may be a massive inconvenience for everyone, but if you don’t have a better idea, then all you are doing is complaining. However, if you are also providing solutions than you are adding value to the situation. Its highly likely all your leaders know that the policy is causing problems, but it’s probably the best one they could come up with, given various constraints. If you can come up with an idea to solve it, not only are you adding value, you are also enhancing your career prospects.


Finally, you should give your boss a reasonable amount of time to help fix the scenario. However, if the problem is not getting any better you should escalate. This should only be done, if your boss is clearly not trying to help with the situation or has tried and failed to fix it. Your boss has failed to act effectively, and this is negatively impacting the team and business. There are usually two people you should consider escalating to. The first of these is your Human Resources department and the other is the boss of your boss.  

Who you go to, should be based upon your assessment of internal dynamics at your workplace. If you have a strong HR team, that are highly visible and clearly contributing to the overall business and have created and are protecting an employee centric workplace, then they should be your first choice. However, if your HR team are the opposite and highly administrative and only seem to get involved in paperwork, there is no point in going to them. They are not going to be much help, so you should speak to the person above your boss. Of course, if they all fail to address the issue then there is only one other thing left to do. Start looking for a better environment elsewhere.

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