When you're having serious problems on the job, sometimes it's not possible to solve them yourself. To make things better, you might consider writing a grievance or complaint letter to your supervisors or Human Resources officers. Depending on the company, it could be addressed to either one, or both. To make your voice heard, follow some basic guidelines and remember to keep your cool.
List your grievances, jotting down the date, time and circumstances. Then look over the list and figure out whether they are personal issues, or problems over which a supervisor or HR department would have control. A manager who sexually harasses you would likely be considered a formal grievance, while a manager who pushes you to work to your max is probably not. If you need help, have a buddy look over your list and help you sort out real complaints from imagined ones.
Look over your employee handbook or job contract for ideas on how to address grievances at your workplace. Many companies have a formal grievance process that you must follow, so do this before you take any other steps. If your company has a form you need to fill out, or other formal steps, follow them carefully.
Type a date at the top of the letter. It could be important that you have a timeline of when you started trying to address your grievances.
Thank the person to whom the letter is addressed in the first paragraph, showing that you're at least a little bit grateful for the opportunity to work with the company. If you have aspects of your job that you enjoy, mention one or two of them in the opening paragraph. Also mention your role and how long you have worked for the company, because upper management and Human Resources officers may need a refresher.
Write in a professional tone as you introduce the problem in the second paragraph. Use language that demonstrates that you're willing to work on the problem without blaming anyone; stick to the facts and introduce the main grievances and your list of examples.
Suggest how to solve the problem in the third paragraph. It is probably not your job to manage your managers, but sometimes, managers are unable to devise solutions as easily as the people who do those jobs. Be tactful as you make suggestions; make it clear that you know the manager is the one who will make the ultimate decision. To close the third paragraph, suggest any next steps you would like to see happen, such as a meeting time to discuss the problem, or a phone call -- provide your personal cell phone number so managers can contact you.
Sign the letter in a nice manner, including another "Thank You" or "Sincerely" to show that you are professional and willing to rise above the problem to maintain good relations with your bosses.
- Keep a copy of the letter after you send it, so you have a record of the date it was written and what you said in case you need it during any other formal processes later.
- Without sounding too confrontational or threatening, you can also use the third paragraph to mention the next steps you will take if your complaints are not addressed, such as speaking with an attorney, filing a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or handing in your resignation -- but tread carefully; this could result in your termination if not handled tactfully.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.