Go to top of page

Taking a strategic approach

Healthy organisations are open, transparent and accountable. They take a positive approach to complaints and give employees the opportunity to raise issues of concern. When employees raise concerns, a healthy organisation responds in an open, respectful way, consistent with its values framework. A healthy organisation recognises that complaints provide opportunities to acknowledge and rectify mistakes, learn from a critique of performance and apply the lessons learned to improve decision-making, policy and procedures.

Employees need to know that they have both the right and opportunity to raise issues, including seeking a review, and that they will not be criticised for doing so when they behave professionally and in good faith.

Agencies can give this opportunity without creating a 'grievance culture'. Treating reviews of actions as a process imposed by legislation, and conducting a 'tick the box' review, can encourage a grievance culture. This is because employees are discouraged from raising issues early with a view to resolution and pursue them only when they are frustrated and their positions have become entrenched.

Integrating the agency's review of actions policy and procedures into the agency's strategic people management framework assists employees to understand the context in which they make complaints, including their responsibilities as well as their rights. Of particular importance is the link between pursuing issues of personal concern and the behavioural responsibilities of employees in the context of the agency's values and culture. These values and culture may include an inclusive and collaborative working environment; and a respectful, positive culture which encourages employees to take responsibility for their actions and behaviour. In addition, employees and managers need to see that the handling of employee complaints is consistent with the values the agency espouses i.e. the APS Values and any agency-specific values.

A healthy organisation encourages an environment where misunderstandings are dealt with promptly and not allowed to influence perceptions of future actions. A positive culture to resolving employee complaints will encourage employees to bring forward issues of concern, encourage early intervention and have a flexible approach. This has a number of benefits, including ensuring that conflicts do not escalate and negatively impact on productivity and performance.