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How to solve an employee dispute effectively

Did you know that US research suggests that employees spend an average of 2.7 hours a week in conflict at work?

With employee engagement and retention being critical for all employers, the last thing any employer needs is an internal dispute that upsets employees and affects morale – and could potentially lead to an expensive and difficult case.

Most people hate conflict, but some conflict and difference of opinion is essential in a healthy business – how can we ensure it doesn’t get out of hand?

Jane Simms in an article in CIPD People Management has some helpful tips:

  • Keep it informal: Once a dispute becomes a formal issue, you are then bound to use the formal disciplinary, grievance and bullying procedures and all that goes with them. Aim to resolve issues as quickly as possible – when they are not major, and employees have not become entrenched in their views and opinions.
  • Training: Some businesses ‘hide’ behind formal procedures, and managers are often not prepared, or able, to deal with the issues. Train your managers to deal with managing conflict, having that difficult conversation, and spotting those tell-tale signs of employee conflict.
  • Hands on: Ensure you and your managers are engaged at all levels of your business, having the ability to sit down and have coffee in the canteen and talk can be the best way of gauging satisfaction and/or issues that are arising.
  • Mediation: Have mediation embedded as a normal first stop in conflict resolution so that employees are used to, and understand, the benefits of mediation at the early stages of conflict.
  • Employee engagement: Finally – take a genuine interest in your employees. If an employee is acting out of character and being difficult, a quiet conversation may well show that the employee has a personal issue that can be supported or resolved. Good managers with training can identify these issues quickly and nip them in the bud.

In summary – employee disputes can be very costly in terms of time, management input, morale and employee engagement. The best way to manage any dispute is to work quickly to eliminate the issues if possible. Voltedge Management works with our clients to support them in minimising the risk and to look at the best way of solving a conflict. Send an email to info@voltedge.ie to see how we can help.

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