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INSIGHT

Complaint lines offer more than gripes

By Steve M. Cohen  bio

A client told me recently that they eliminated their 800 number complaint line. When I asked why, they said, “All we got were complaints!”

I disagreed. Whether they are from employees or customers, complaints are invaluable because the feedback provides an opportunity for examination. I realize the protocol might be slightly different for a medical office, but the concept remains true. Examination offers an opportunity for evolution. Evolution offers the opportunity for thoughtful growth and development.

Along the same lines, ask yourself how you feel about hotlines for employees. I encourage my clients to set up hotlines with my telephone number for employees who have any concerns, fears or complaints about what’s happening within their company.

Many clients initially resist, but I assure them it is better that problems are reported to somebody who is on the organization’s side. If employees feel motivated to “blow the whistle,” they will find a way. Isn’t it better if employees report to someone who is connected to the organization and has the organization’s best interest at heart?

One option for the employees is reporting to a government agency. Unfortunately for the organization, that agency has the authority, and frequently the bias and prerogative, to come down hard on the employer.

But if the employer gets the “word” that an employee is unhappy about something, an internal examination can be conducted. The problem can be rectified, without the intervention and negative consequences associated with government regulation that can include fines, bad publicity, and possibly civil litigation.

I personally witnessed a perfect example. The employer had an employee who reported a violation, as he saw it, of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Simply put, the employer paid employees differently (at a much higher per hour wage) when they were working on a government job. When they were working on a job for a private for-profit entity, employees were paid a different (lower) hourly rate.

The employee saw this as discrimination because he didn’t understand the laws and rules associated with Prevailing Wage Rate. How could he understand the complicated laws and rules? He called the EEOC and the organization faced a lengthy, serious issue.

If this employer had had a “friendly” hotline for him to call, that concern probably could have been mitigated and the EEOC examination could have been avoided.

I encourage all offices to set up hotlines, complaint lines or some vehicle to facilitate feedback. Regardless of whether it’s negative or positive, it’s still feedback that is valuable.


Steve M. Cohen, Ed.D., CMC is President/Partner of Labor Management Advisory Group, Inc. and HR Solutions: On-Call, both based in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit www.laborgroup.com or call (913) 927-0229.


The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.

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