I sincerely hope that you, your loved ones and your colleagues are keeping well.
Many of you will have heard me say that I believe that we should move from a Grievance policy to a dispute resolution policy. Why do I say this? It is all about the starting point - the mindset when taking out a Grievance is 'I want you punished!' rather than a focus of 'How can we sort this out?' which is what a dispute resolution policy invites the aggrieved employee to consider.
Many organisations have become far too quick to suggest that unhappy staff take out grievances and are too reliant on their formal processes; it is time to change direction and help managers to become more creative about how they resolve conflict. I'm not alone in my thinking - these 2 recent pieces of research have reached similar and consistent conclusions:
Managing Workplace Conflict – The changing role of HR (ACAS)
“This work has identified the emergence of a ‘resolution gap’ as the informal processes of resolution have been eroded. Moreover, it has suggested that changes in the nature of the HR function may have been a contributory factor to the common cultures of avoidance among line managers when faced with conflict” (Executive Summary - page 3)
The report encourages organisations to rethink their current approaches to managing conflict; to reassert the significance of employment relations; and to build the competence of line and operational managers.
Managing Conflict in the Modern Workplace (CIPD)
“Our findings draw attention to the serious problem of bullying and harassment in UK workplaces and the devastating impact unfair treatment can have on individuals and organisations. They reveal a continued reliance on formal processes and procedures to deal with conflict and evidence of a serious perception- reality gap.” (Introduction Page 2)
The report focuses on 4 key insights that it concludes HR needs to act on: i) Building inclusive cultures based on prevention; ii) Putting the ER back into HR; iii) Shifting from process to resolution; and iv) Ensuring better support for managers in the front line.
It is time for change so we are ready for when lockdown ends - what are you expecting? Will there be damaged working relationships? Will there be difficult conversations to be had? Will you become bogged down in grievances?
In this unprecedented period of time, many of us, who are not front-line staff, have a unique opportunity to reflect, and it is changing our priorities. I have observed that my mediation parties are already more open to resolving their issues and to not holding onto grudges - the gravity of Covid-19 is causing a change in perspective unlike anything I have seen before. So throw out those grievance policies and replace them with a dispute resolution one instead - there has never been a better time to change the way that we manage workplace conflict.
Also published on LinkedIn
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