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January 12, 2024

Depending on the shifts your employees work, they may spend anywhere from one-third to one-half of their days on the job and around their co-workers.

Every workforce has its own unique dynamics, with some job sites experiencing more employee conflict than others. Regardless of your industry or workforce size, disputes between employees — and between employees and management — are an unwelcome distraction.

The more arguing your team does, the less work that gets accomplished. Not only that, but such conflicts can threaten employee morale and retention. While managing and resolving these disputes quickly is good, avoiding them in the first place is better.

5 Tips for Preventing Workplace Conflict From an Experienced Employer Defense Lawyer

You’ll never be able to avoid all conflicts involving your employees. That said, the more proactive you are in implementing effective strategies, the more unnecessary issues you can avoid. Such strategies can also help resolve the conflicts that arise more quickly and positively.

1. Focus on Creating a Culture of Communication

First, you should make it a point to model good communication to your employees and encourage them to reciprocate with you and one another.

Where there’s open communication, expectations can be clearly expressed and feedback graciously received. Reward employees who show initiative in resolving potential conflicts by talking to the other person involved directly rather than always involving a third party.

Conversely, if an employee doesn’t use good communication skills in a given situation, teach them how to communicate better. Express your expectations and walk the employee through how to meet them. Let them know that you trust their ability to communicate and that you’re willing to assist if they can’t.

At its core, a culture of communication is one where your employees feel free to express themselves in healthy and positive ways. It’s equally important that your employees feel heard and like they can receive helpful feedback from others.

This communication skill needs to be developed and constantly improved, so take the time to encourage your workers to use and grow such skills.

2. Foster a Sense of Unity

It’s easier to avoid unnecessary conflicts when you trust the people around you and believe they share similar goals. To this end, investing in activities and events that foster a sense of unity is a good idea.

These activities don’t have to be elaborate or expensive — you can find lots of great ideas for team-building exercises on the Internet. Consider events like office parties or picnics to celebrate milestones or workplace achievements. You can also participate in group games and activities to promote teamwork and interreliance.

The better your workforce learns to collaborate effectively and share in each other’s victories, the better they’ll be able to resolve any disagreements that arise between them organically.

3. Insist That Team Members Show Respect for One Another

Good-natured jokes and repartee can be useful for building a sense of camaraderie. However, it’s important to ensure that humor doesn’t cross the line into disrespect, harassment, or discrimination. When it does, it could put you and your management team on the hook from a legal standpoint.

Not only can these behaviors destroy employee morale, but they can also subject your business to lawsuits requiring the intervention of an employer defense lawyer.

Educate your employees on what constitutes discrimination and harassment and how they’re distinguishable from acceptable humor. The prevention of harassment and discrimination is a topic that should be discussed regularly at employee training and briefings.

4. Have a Conflict-Resolution Process in Place

Despite your efforts to eliminate all workplace conflicts, your employees will inevitably end up in disagreements that they can’t resolve themselves. In such situations, you’ll be well-served to have a clear conflict-resolution process in place that allows management to address the situation and keep it from continuing.

Regardless of how you respond to any given conflict, the process you employ must allow all parties involved to feel heard and understood. Use active listening techniques to ensure you understand the problem and how it’s affecting your employees. Then, make a decision that’s fair but final.

5. Consider Terminating Employees Who Won’t Comply

Some employers allow toxic or confrontational team members to remain on the job long after they should have been removed. This hesitancy devalues conflict resolution and interpersonal skills in the workplace.

While your employees should know how to perform their essential functions, it’s equally important that they know how to do so while getting along with others.

If an employee has repeatedly shown that they’re unwilling to resolve issues with their coworkers in a constructive manner despite ongoing training and coaching, it may be best to let them go. There’s no need to wait until a conflict blows up into something unmanageable.

Taking this unpleasant but necessary step can do more than just prevent an unnecessary workplace conflict. Such problematic individuals often create tension and friction just by their mere presence on the job. Removing them can improve the overall work environment and elevate employee morale.

Before removing an employee for their poor interpersonal skills, consider discussing potential liabilities with an employer defense lawyer. Your employer defense lawyer can advise you on the best way to offboard the individual without exposing your business to unnecessary liability.

Invest in Conflict Resolution Sooner Rather Than Later

When it comes to resolving workplace disputes, you have two choices. One is to invest your time and effort in implementing proactive strategies designed to reduce the frequency of conflicts and help your workers successfully navigate disagreements. The other is to waste that time and energy arbitrating each and every conflict that arises.

Being proactive about workplace disputes may seem like more work, especially if you undertake these measures when there’s no immediate conflict. However, the benefits of a proactive approach will pay dividends in terms of employee morale, productivity, and retention.

Such an approach can save you money, as well, since you’ll be less likely to require the services of your employer defense lawyer for issues like bias, harassment, or unlawful termination claims.

Proactive Conflict Resolution for a Successful Workplace

Take the proactive step towards a harmonious workplace. Contact an experienced employer defense lawyer at Pearlman, Brown & Wax, LLP for expert assistance. Ensure your business is well-protected and resolve conflicts efficiently. Act now to safeguard your company’s success.

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