How many of you have encountered the problem when a complaint is made but the complainant tells you that they don’t want the matter investigated?
I often get asked by HR professionals and managers, “What do I do if someone makes a complaint and then says that they don’t want me to do anything, they just wanted me to know.”
Despite what people think, this is not a difficult situation - it becomes all about ownership of the complaint.
Once someone has made a complaint to you, you now own the complaint. What you do with it is your decision.
While you may wish to consider the desires of the complainant, in the end, you own the complaint. It is your responsibility and when the music stops, you will be the one left standing holding the complaint.
You may have to tell the complainant that you must report this or must take action and if they then withdraw the complaint... you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.
It is also wise to remember that the employee may change his or her mind about not wanting the matter investigated. They might not actually tell you this. They might make a later complaint that you did nothing.
Finally, irrespective of an employee’s views on how their workplace issue should be managed, once an employer becomes aware of an issue, it is the employer’s decision about how the matter should be dealt with.
It is imperative that the employer considers the potential risks arising from the complaint and makes an assessment about the extent to which the issue should be investigated and the process for doing so.
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