If you have human resources responsibilities, you spend a lot of time listening to people complain. Their boss is mean. Their job is stressful. No one works as hard as they do. What a bunch of crybabies, right?

But here’s the thing. You want your employees to feel comfortable complaining to HR. You want them to know how to complain and whom to complain to. You want to have documentation showing that they’ve been informed of multiple individuals they can complain to and how to contact them. You want to create an environment where they know they can complain without fear of retaliation and you want a policy clearly stating that fact.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. The sooner you learn of a problem in the workplace, the easier it will be to address. The longer it lasts, the more someone’s feelings get hurt, the more people know about it, and the more complicated a resolution becomes.
  2. Also, if you get into litigation or have to defend a charge from a government agency, you want to be able to show that, if the problem was as bad as the employee now claims, it was unreasonable for them not to complain.
  3. But most important of all, employees who don’t feel they can bring concerns to HR or management are more likely to go to lawyers and government agencies and other third parties whose interests may be in conflict with your own.

So practice that concerned expression and keep the Kleenex handy. Fielding complaints is part of your job.