You might think it’ll all be about someone leaving week-old milk in the fridge, baking gunk on to the plate of the microwave or not washing their cup.
But office complaints today are a more serious matter. Here are 10 of our biggest workplace gripes, according to human resources experts – and what you can do to find a solution.
1. Pay isn’t fair
The most common complaint in an office is that a pay rate isn’t fair, says Peter Wilson, chairman of the Australian Human Resources Institute.
That might be someone comparing themselves to someone on a higher rate who’s not doing as much work, but more commonly it’s from women.
“It’s particularly the problem women face getting the same rate of pay as a man doing the same job,” he says.
2. Not enough feedback from managers
Employees like to hear from the boss. Photo: Shutterstock
“That lack of communication from the top down is always a problem for employees,” says Laura Good, of HR consultants MetaPeople.
“People like to know how they’re going – particularly if it’s well – or in time to make adjustments before an important performance review.”
3. Office is too noisy
High-jinks can annoy others, particularly in open-plan offices. Photo: Getty Images
The shift to open plan offices or activity-based working has led to a sharp increase in complaints about noisy office neighbours, says Redefinity corporate and conflict coach Lynora Brooke.
“It means people can hear each other on the phone constantly, or talking together, in meetings, even laughing. Especially when people have loud voices, or there aren’t enough quiet spaces, that can be a real problem.”
4. Other people aren’t being nice
Many complaints are about feeling excluded among colleagues. Photo: Supplied
A huge volume of complaints are about colleagues, says Gabriel Alkan, principal consultant with Specialist HR.
“It may be personality clashes or that someone’s sworn at them, or doesn’t talk to them, or has excluded them from their clique. Then it might be that someone doesn’t return their emails or even that they’ve looked at them the wrong way …”
5. IT issues
These are an incredible flashpoint for people today, says Laura Good. “Often people don’t know how something works or how to fix it when it stuffs up and they can’t get on with their job. They feel they just can’t cope when technology goes wrong, and when help takes longer than they expect.”
6. Harassment or bullying in the workplace
“These complaints are on the rise,” says Gabriel Alkan.
“I could say people are under more pressure but, at the same time, awareness has increased among employees about what constitutes bullying, and people are putting in more complaints about it.”
7. Changes in the workplace
Staff changes can be unsettling. Photo: Shutterstock
We all hate change, particularly when it makes us feel uncertain of our place in the world, and our future.
“Restructures or changes in leadership with new managers can make many people upset,” says Lynora Brooke.
“They might have been working in a certain way for a long time, and now that has to change, and they perceive they have less autonomy.”
8. The workload
Many workers feel the burden when staff numbers drop.
People feeling they have too much to do, and too little time, and feeling stressed as a result is very common, says Gabriel Alkan.
“Often companies might let people go and decide not to rehire, so rely on fewer people to do the same amount of work. People can feel a great burden.”
9. 24/7 demands
Switching off can be difficult as work pressure rises. Photo: Shutterstock
“Many people, particularly those more senior in companies, feel they’re under pressure to be available 24-7,” says Peter Wilson.
“They might be getting phone calls from the US at any time during the night, or less senior staff might receive an email from the boss at 6am and be expected to have replied by 7.30am – just as they’re putting the kids in the shower.”
10. It’s too hot or it’s too cold
Not a fan of air-conditioning problems? You’re not alone. Photo: Shutterstock
For three years, the International Facility Management Association surveyed its members to find out the top complaints in the office. The first year, being too hot ranked at number one. The second year, it was too cold that took our top spot. The third year, it was back to being too hot.
Find a solution
So what should you do if you do feel you have a legitimate complaint?
First, check if your company has a formal complaints procedure, setting out who you need to talk initially, what evidence you might need to present and where you should go if that doesn’t bring you a solution, says Laura Good.
“But another regular complaint is that a lot of company’s don’t actually have a complaints procedure,” she says.
“If that’s the case, make sure you put things in writing as you go, and first talk to your immediate manager or supervisor and, depending on that outcome, escalate it from there.”
Throughout the process, however, your main priority should be keeping your complaint professional, staying calm and being rational at all times. “Name-calling and storming off won’t get you anywhere,” says Good.
“And that could even make it easier for your company to dismiss you as a whinger, instead of taking your complaint seriously and finding a solution.”
Stay professional and calm as you try to resolve a complaint and restore office harmony. Photo: Shutterstock