The holidays can be a stressful time, disrupting your employees’ work/life balance. Workers may compete for overtime to help cover expenses or request more time off to spend with family. Or the extra stress and reduced sunlight may simply affect their moods. No matter “why” workplace conflicts happen, resolving them usually falls into the lap of the HR department. Co-workers who can’t get along, employees who dislike managers, all these disputes need to be resolved to maintain a productive workforce. Here’s how HR should go about doing it. 


Rule Out Any Potential Compliance Issue 

Before attempting to resolve any conflicts between employees and/or managers, you need to make sure the conflict didn’t violate any compliance issues, like sexual harassment. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission routinely fines companies for age and disability discrimination. It is imperative to make sure this isn’t happening at your company. 

Be an Active Listener 

While it is important for HR to remain impartial, mitigating conflict is easier when you are an active listener for all. SHRM suggests HR listen to both sides to reduce the impact of the conflict. That doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with everything each side says, but rather respecting and empathizing with their opinions. 

Keep Communication Open 

Poor communication is the top reason for workplace conflicts, according to SHRM. Poor communication can also undermine the conflict resolution process; it is much easier to resolve conflicts if you aren’t completely blindsided by them. Keeping the lines of communication open, whether it is by having an open-door policy, having online chats or sending emails, will help you know if employees are feeling dissatisfied with their manager or upset with their co-workers. Besides alerting you to potential conflicts, an open-door policy can give you a heads-up if employees are feeling stressed, overworked, underappreciated or underpaid. 

Spell Out Policies in Your Handbook 

It’s easier to settle disputes when you have policies in place for how your company expects employees to behave. Along with legal issues, your employee handbook can cover your company’s policies on topics that might cause workplace conflict like combustive issues including employee dating and complaints. An employee handbook should also lay out your company culture in your handbook by describing workplace norms, values and expectations. Include information on your company’s policies about dress code, social media access, drug testing and attendance. 

Empower Staff to Be Part of The Solution 

Resolving conflicts can be time consuming. Employees and managers spend an average of 4.3 hours a week dealing with conflict. It’s more efficient to invite employees to be part of the solution to eliminate future issues. Ask each of the employees to come up with three or four specific actions they can take to resolve the conflict between them. HR professionals should also train managers on how to resolve employee conflicts and when to elevate issues to HR. 

Hold Regular Performance Reviews 

A performance review is a great way for managers to stay on top of how their employees are feeling about their job and their co-workers. Plus, performance reviews provide the opportunity to adjust workloads and job descriptions, which could be the root of some conflicts, like doing another’s work or being bossy. And performance reviews are just part of good management. 

Using a performance management system, like the one offered by Arcoro, keeps the lines of communication open, helping to reduce the number of conflicts in your workplace. Plus, a good performance review process goes a long way towards keeping your employees engaged in their daily work. 


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