Handling a Serious Complaint Involving Management or the HR Team

by | Apr 5, 2021 | Management


Any violation of trust amongst employees in the workplace can be problematic. However, when the violation comes from someone in Management or HR – it becomes a particularly sensitive matter that can cast a negative light on the leadership team and eventually the entire organization. If or when this happens, it is critical to take swift remedial action. We have outlined a few steps and tips to help your organization move past this.

Below are five steps to take immediately:

    1. Notify

    If a Manager or HR leader becomes involved in a matter involving inappropriate workplace behavior, you need to immediately inform the company’s executive leadership team. Act fast and notify!

    2. Start an Investigation

    As any serious workplace matter would require, a proper investigation needs to be launched. If you are a member of the executive leadership team and have just been informed of inappropriate workplace behavior involving someone from Management or HR, you will need to consider contacting your company’s legal counsel or a third-party consulting firm – TSERGAS Human Capital is here for you!

    3. Suspension

    It is recommended that the parties involved are suspended while the investigation is taking place. This is because as Managers or members of HR, they have access to confidential employee data, organizational strategic plans, and department functions which could result in a conflict of interest.

    Make sure that before the suspension comes into effect, you have created a contingency plan for the period during which the involved parties will be away.

    4. Counseling

    Arrange for counseling of the parties involved – the sooner the better. Due to the nature of the issue and the people involved, you will likely need to do some damage control as well. Employees should be informed (to the appropriate extent) to avoid rumors, gossip, and to provide a sense of security. Remember, employee trust may have been lost, and we are now trying to build that back. Transparency and a sense of urgency are key here.

    5. HR Staff

    A meeting with the other members of the HR team is a must. Reassure your HR staff that business will resume as usual and inform them of any interim leader or temporary staff changes while the investigation takes place.

    As HR professionals, they should already understand the importance of confidentiality, but remind them of this.

    Invite questions, private one-on-one meetings, if necessary; and encourage your HR staff to share any information that could assist with the investigation.

Management and HR staff are expected to uphold company policies, adhere to fair and ethical employment practices, and lead the organization by example. So, when someone from Management or the HR department violates the trust of employees through negligent behavior, it can truly cast a negative light on the entire leadership team. Following the five steps above, and getting to the bottom of the situation as quickly and effectively as possible, will facilitate a smooth transition towards resolution.


When the staff members who should be held most accountable for protecting the integrity of your organization end up breaching it, this can create a very complicated situation which can be difficult to navigate on your own. For assistance in carrying out a legally compliant investigation or for support in counseling or training your staff, contact TSERGAS Human Capital: [email protected]

Cierra James-Hahn

HR Business Partner

Cierra is an experienced human resources professional with a comprehensive background in recruitment and onboarding, contract writing, compensation and benefits, health and safety, and policy development.