Top Complaints Employees Make to HR

Human resources complaints may seem trivial, but they are serious to the employee and if left unaddressed can become more problematic.


Employees who are happy and satisfied with their jobs are good employees. They tend to be more productive and aren’t planning on leaving at the soonest available opportunity. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that any complaints you hear from your employees are investigated and addressed. Human resources complaints may seem trivial, but they are serious to the employee and if left unaddressed can become more problematic.

What Are the Top Employee Complaints to HR?

Not all complaints will be valid. For example, it is possible that an employee complaining about a manager yelling is also an employee that is not doing a good job. That manager could have simply been speaking to a problem employee about improving their performance. However, what if you do have a manager consistently yelling at employees?

Employees’ negative perception of your company can not only affect productivity but can also increase employee turnover and even affect profit. But what are the top HR complaints that employees make?

Challenges with Managers or Coworkers

Not everyone in your company is going to be best friends with each other. Employees will face challenges in dealing with their managers or coworkers. These challenges can come from personality clashes or differences in working styles. However, these challenges can cause friction between employees and can affect productivity as well as cause employees stress.


No one likes to have someone looking over their shoulder as they work. Employees who feel micromanaged don’t feel that the company trusts them enough to do their jobs without close supervision. While there may be some employees who require such close supervision because they would slack off without it, most employees just want to get on with their jobs.

Also, if managers are spending their time micromanaging your employees, they’re not leaving enough time to do the actual job of managing. Instead of delegating responsibilities to the employees and devoting their time to the bigger picture, micromanagers are instead neglecting their own responsibilities. Thus, not only does employee morale suffer, but productivity within your company may suffer as well.

Failing to Provide Clear Instructions

No matter how good your employees are, they aren’t mind readers. A common complaint is that managers will assign projects and fail to provide clear instructions for how they want that project complete. Then, those same managers often then punish employees for not completing work up to their expectations.

If your employees are complaining that they’re expected to read their managers’ minds, it’s time to improve the communication within your company. Poor communication can affect productivity, morale, workflow, and more. Ensuring that expectations are clear and understood by everyone from the beginning will result in work meeting expectations and employees feeling more comfortable that they understand exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

Lack of Praise

Feedback is an important part of anyone’s job. Employees need to know if they’re doing something wrong so they can improve. But employees also like to know if they’re doing well.

If your employees feel as if they only receive negative feedback, they may start to feel demoralized. This can lead to a negative atmosphere in the workplace and demoralization amongst your employees. Employees can feel like they’re not doing a good job even if they are and second-guess themselves, fearing negative feedback.

Hearing positive praise can go a long way towards making employees feel valued by your company. In addition, employees can view work they’ve done well and have been positively praised as a benchmark to aim for in all of their work.

It’s also important to give credit where it’s due. Reward good work and make sure to specifically mention employees who have done well. Employees will feel valued and that they are contributing well to the company if their hard work is recognized.

Payroll and Benefits

Employees may experience issues with their paychecks or benefits that must be addressed with HR. These may include questions about deductions from their paychecks. They may also have questions about tax deductions and filing taxes.

Paid and Unpaid Time Off

Employees may also have questions about time off that their managers may be unable to answer. For example, if an employee wants to take all of their PTO at once, they would have to ask HR for approval. In addition, if an employee has used up all of their paid time off but still needs more time off, they may come to HR to ask about unpaid leave.

Employee Goals and Performance Reviews

Employees may have concerns regarding performance goals and reviews. They may compare their reviews to that of other employees and feel that they were marked unfairly on their reviews. They may also feel that their performance goals are too high or not challenging enough in relation to those of their peers.

Salary and Job Titles

Employees may come to HR to discuss their salaries and job titles if they feel there’s a problem. Issues regarding salary may include being paid less than their peers or less than the industry standard. When it comes to job titles, employees may feel that the work they do reflects a higher job title than the one they currently have.

Career Advancement and Job Transfers

If an employee is looking to advance within the company or transfer internally to another department, they’ll need to talk to HR. Sometimes, an employee wanting to advance within the company may ask HR about qualifications they’ll need to have. If an employee wants to take advantage of an internal opportunity, they’ll come to HR for an opinion.

Harassment and Discrimination

Sometimes, employees experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Sometimes the discrimination and harassment are purposeful and other times it’s unintentional. Regardless of the intent, harassment and discrimination must be dealt with promptly. Companies should work to maintain a culture of diversity and acceptance and if employees feel harassed, that culture will be undermined and you may lose good employees.

Work/Life Balance

Employees may have issues in their personal lives that affect their work. They’ll come to HR to discuss their work/life balance. There may be a different schedule available that would allow an employee to be available to pick up children from school, for example.

Attendance and Policy Issues

Employees may have issues with attendance or other policies, especially if they perceive other employees breaking policy without reprimand. For example, if an employee always gets to leave early, that may cause concern with other employees who may suspect preferential treatment. Policies should be enforced equally with all employees.

How to Handle Employee Complaints to HR

Some employee complaints to HR may seem inconsequential on the surface. However, if an employee cares enough to bring the matter to HR, it’s important to that employee. If you don’t handle employee complaints the right way, employee morale can be negatively impacted. Eventually, employees may lose productivity or even leave the company.

Allow Anonymous Reporting

It’s important to give employees a way to deal with complaints that doesn’t necessarily involve going through the chain of command. Depending on the nature of the complaint, an employee may not feel comfortable going to their boss’ boss. For example, a female employee who is experiencing sexual harassment may feel more comfortable talking to a female member of HR instead.

Take Complaints Seriously

Employees need to know that their complaints are taken seriously. If you hear employees complaining about their managers or someone else within the company, it’s essential to the efficient functioning of your company to investigate. It’s possible that you’ll discover the problem originates with a lazy employee. But it’s also possible that you have a manager that is prone to yelling, which could result in employee turnover.

The important thing is that employees feel that they will be taken seriously if they have a complaint. Your employees, managers, and company will all be better for it.

Thoroughly Investigate Complaints

It’s important to get to the bottom of each employee issue. What the employee complains about may not be the root cause of the problem. Investigating at all can help show employees that you’re taking their concerns seriously. But it’s also important to make sure you’re investigating the right thing. An employee may feel that a manager is micromanaging, but the manager may be doing that because the employee hadn’t received proper training. The right solution will only present itself after a thorough investigation.

Know the Difference Between a Problem and Venting

Sometimes, employees just need to vent. Something may have annoyed or frustrated them that they need to talk about, but no further action is required. Other times, however, the employee complaint is a sign of a more serious issue. It’s essential to know the difference between the two scenarios. If HR mistakes a problem for venting, then employees may feel that HR doesn’t care about them or take them seriously.

Are you looking for a HRIS that can help you keep track of employee complaints and achievements? Let us help you find the software that will best fit your needs. Visit our Software Match page to get started today.

Software Match

Get matched for free with top HR software.

How many employees are in your organization?

Select the software features you need.

We are matching your needs with the software in our database.

We found matches!
To get the shortlist, please provide your contact info.

By clicking the button above, I agree that Matchr and its approved vendors may use my information to follow up on my request. I also accept the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

We are sorry, Matchr currently does not offer support to countries outside USA, Canada

Thanks for using our Software Matching service

Would you like to schedule a 5-10 minute meeting with a Software Advisor right now?


7,540 people have requested their software matches !

User Friendly
100% Free
HR Tech Experts
Used by top companies

Trusted by