Workplace pressures and conflict

By Victoria Davidson

You don’t need to read the newspaper to know that we are in the midst of a skills shortage.

A consequence of closed domestic and international borders and, especially for the QSR industry, the lack of international students, the restricted movement of workers has hit hard. This means that the pressure to retain staff is high.

When staff performance is good, that is not a problem. However, when issues arise with a staff member and replacing them is not an option, there are limited avenues available. Training and performance management are the obvious first steps and can often resolve the problems. There are times, however, when workplace conflicts escalate and its hard to return to an amicable working relationship.

It is in the best interests of all to resolve workplace issues expediently and efficiently. Having unresolved issues in the workplace can impact on team culture, so a once productive work environment becomes toxic.

What do you do then, if termination is not possible or practical? Workplace mediation offers the best avenue to resolve the conflict and gives the best chance for a workable outcome. Mediation allows the participants to meet and discuss in a neutral setting the issues that are causing conflict.

A practiced mediator knows how to facilitate a productive conversation where the issues are identified and explored, and the participants have the time to listen to each other’s concerns. Once the participants’ interests are uncovered, the participants themselves have a greater understanding of how the other perceives any problems and they can work together to negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome.

It might sound like wishful thinking, but practice has shown that when two parties in conflict meet and have the opportunity to voice their concerns and be heard, they can and do work together to find a solution that satisfies their interests.

When can mediation help? Really, anywhere that there is an ongoing issue between employer/manager and employee. Some examples are:

  • Employment contract renegotiation
  • Performance issues
  • Wage disputes
  • Bullying and harassment allegations
  • Team dynamics
  • Termination settlement
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