Handling an employee complaint about another employee

Workmates don’t always see eye to eye. Thankfully, lots of disagreements aren’t major and get resolved without management having to step in. But if conflict between co-workers leads to a complaint to a manager or boss, you need to know how to handle it effectively.

Unresolved conflict can have a major effect on your company, commercially and legally, so it doesn’t pay to ignore it.

If you are faced with an employee complaint about a colleague, here are some tips for dealing with it:

Take it seriously

Always take staff complaints seriously and look into them, no matter how small they appear.

Initial investigation should focus on determining whether a complaint is justified, how serious it is, and whether it warrants further action. Like all employment processes, conduct any investigation fairly and seek to resolve the issue with a minimum of exacerbation and distress. Always be clear about the process, so everyone involved knows what to expect.

It’s not a police investigation and you only need to find out if the complaint is more likely to have happened than not (the “balance of probabilities”). If it’s a clear case of bullying, harassment, and discrimination, then you need to formally investigate straight away.


Many complaints result from minor incidents or arguments, and can be resolved without formal procedure. If it’s a personality clash, encourage people to step up and figure out how to get along.

If a relationship is severely strained, mediation with a third-party can help both parties lower their defences and work to find solutions they can live with.

Remember, if your company fosters an environment where people feel they can raise issues and give and receive feedback, then you will have fewer issues and be better placed to resolve any that arise.

The following article has some great advice for handling employee complaints.

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