Step 1. Find out the process
Whether you’re raising a concern or asking for something, find out if your workplace has a process to follow. There may be forms to complete and specific channels to go through.
Ask the advice of others who have been through this before. Is there anything they’d have done differently? Be strategic with your internal conversations — your goal is to gather information, not to air grievances (yet).
Step 2. Pull your thoughts and paperwork together
Before you write the letter, brainstorm and gather supporting documents. These might include HR policies, emails about the incident in question, external salary surveys, and so on. Ask yourself: How am I going to convince this person to come around to my side?
Build your case. If there was a specific incident, write down the date and place it happened, how it made you feel, and who witnessed it.
Think hard about the outcome you want. How do you hope your employer responds? Consider suggesting two options to solve this. That way, even if they choose your Plan B, you’ll have come out ahead.
Step 3. Write your letter
Here’s a walkthrough.
- Explain the issue. Stick to the facts. Dates are important. Be brief, but spell it out. For example, if you haven’t been paid, say how much you think your employer owes you.
Explain briefly the issue’s impact on you. Describe how it has made you feel. Avoid attacking your employer or other staff.
Describe the steps you’ve taken so far. If you tried to resolve the situation informally first, mention that and say what the outcome was.
Suggest a solution. Say as clearly as you can what steps must be taken to make things work for you. Again, suggesting several alternatives can be a savvy tactic. If you want an investigation to take place into your complaint, make this request clear.
Ask for a response by a certain date. For example, I’m hoping to see some progress on this by (X date). Generally, one week is a reasonable timeline.
Make sure your letter is dated and signed. Include copies of any supporting evidence with your letter. Keep a copy for yourself.
Step 4. Follow up
If the date you said you’d appreciate a response by comes and goes, check in again. Be brief and to the point. If you check in verbally, also confirm the check in by email. This record of the discussion may be helpful down the road.