How to Avoid Conflicts as Workers Return to the Workplace
Conflicts are commonplace in the workplace. As we return to working in more traditional settings, we are likely to see the return of workplace conflicts. If one does not make proactive efforts to contain workplace conflicts, the problems could quickly mount and easily cause losses worth billions. Employee disputes may sound like a trivial thing but you can find several studies that prove how they escalate to interrupt operations, halting productivity and damaging the company’s reputation.
Hence, it is necessary to install robust and effective resolution strategies that will protect the company’s reputation, productivity and work environment. Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies to avoid workplace conflicts below.
- Encourage Open Communication
Few practices are as beneficial as establishing an open communication policy that encourages employees to share their concerns freely. When managers create a forum that encourages the employees to freely discuss what’s bothering them, it creates a positive environment throughout the workplace.
It helps employees know that the management is always there to hear what they have to say, resolve their conflicts and provide support. When employees are heard and supported their work will improve and they feel a stronger connection to their workplace.
An open-communication policy takes away the hesitation or fear of repercussion from employees when they wish to share something with their manager. Active listening, communicating, and proactive efforts to resolve workplace conflicts builds unity and teamwork.
This practice will discourage smaller issues from escalating while promoting goodwill throughout the workplace.
- Promote Mental Wellness
One of the leading causes of outburst of temper, behavioral problems and unprofessional manners is the lack of mental wellness. The past two years have not been easy for anyone, due to quarantines, lockdowns, and uncertainty and escalating health problems. It’s wise to remember that we have all suffered varying levels of stress.
The return to workplaces, the old routine and the normal way of life will take some time getting used to again. Stress, regardless of its levels, can manifest itself in numerous ways and trigger depression, anxiety attacks and behavioral issues.
Now more than ever we need to focus on mental wellbeing. As a leader, you can introduce programs in your workplace to improve the mental wellness of your employees. You can encourage transparent and open communication while building support groups in every department.
The important thing is to give employees an outlet to communicate and to seek help for whatever is weighing them down, at work or otherwise. You can even train your personnel through programs and workshops to help them with workplace conflicts and personal life stresses.
- Assess the Severity of the Conflict before Taking Action
Workplace conflicts vary greatly in nature. There could be a number of root causes ranging from the trivial to grave concern. As a manager or team leader, you must take time to assess the severity of the conflict before you jump into action.
Leaders need to be strategic, diplomatic and careful in their decisions and actions because the entire team is at stake. While conflicts are inevitable, they can however, arise due to misinterpretations, miscommunication, clashing personalities and competition.
There could also be other serious causes, such as workplace harassment, embezzlement, discrimination and similar issues. In that case, you must rely on strict company procedures and policies to address the problem.
Once you have determined the severity of the workplace conflict you can assess if you need to rely on company policy to guide your action or if you can begin with discussion, an open-door policy, or involvement from your HR employees for resolving conflicts
- Update Policies to Align with the New Normal
We have all been through a difficult phase since the pandemic, and so it’s time companies review their policies to ensure they align with the new normal conditions. Make changes where need be to provide more flexibility, empathy and support to your workers.
While you do that, it is also important to update your employees on the new policy changes and tell them the reasons you are implementing the new measures. It could be due to some legal requirements of the company, to promote mental wellness or to follow recommendations from public authorities.
But how will this help with workplace conflicts you may ask? The truth is that life is far more challenging now that we have to cope with a pandemic in addition to the other pressures of life. A little leniency and ease on part of the employers will lighten some of the load of the workers.
This in turn will encourage them to work hard, be at their best, and exercise unity and teamwork instead of creating conflicts. A little goodwill goes a long way after all!
- Employee Handbook
Many of us tend to take our employee handbook for granted, not realizing how beneficial it can be for avoiding conflicts at workplaces. There cannot be a better reference point than the employee handbook when it comes to resolving workplace conflicts.
Let the handbook be a guide for all employees regarding the code of conduct. All you have to do is update the handbook, the policies and stipulations therein so that each worker knows about the updated code of conduct post resuming. Make sure you advise workers of any updates to the handbook.
The policies you update must establish clear standards and highlight emphatically unacceptable bWork on Fair Solutions
ehaviors. Make sure there’s no ambiguity so that none of the workers are unclear about expectations of behaviour in the workplace.
- Work on Fair Solutions
Leaders are there to facilitate, guide and provide fair solutions. When conflicts form in your organization, be sure to take proper measures in solving them the right way. By rushing headlong into things and taking an overly strict action, you might worsen a situation you could have salvaged.
A good idea is to understand the conflict first, give both parties an equal chance to share their side of the story and try to find comprehensive solutions. You may wish to speak to your employees separately about their conflict before bringing them together to discuss solutions. Let the end goal be a positive outcome and a plan of action that all parties agree upon.
Workplace conflicts are inevitable especially in uncertain times. Employees all over the world have had to cope with drastic and rapid working culture changes due to the pandemic, lockdowns and quarantines.
Resuming the old way of working is going to take time and can cause conflicts of various natures among the workers. By establishing a few good measures, policies and comprehensive solutions before conflicts arise, you’ll ensure a smooth transition for all employees returning to work.