As your company’s employee roster grows, a relaxed, informal approach to resolving workplace disputes may not be enough. Having a formal corporate conflict resolution policy becomes essential and may even be legally required. But if you are relying on a template that you found online, the policy might be missing some important features that will smooth the way toward a happy and productive workplace.
Why You Need a Corporate Conflict Resolution Policy
Workplace conflict is a part of every business. How your management deals with that conflict sets the tone for your workplace culture. It can affect employee productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. Many small businesses and startups rely on informal conflict resolution strategies that rely on the close interpersonal connections of a small setting.
When the company begins to grow, that informality can result in feelings of favoritism, resentment, or even simply confusion over the conflict resolution process. This is especially true in family businesses or closely held companies. By adopting a formal corporate conflict resolution policy, you can resolve that confusion and put all your employees on an even playing field so they can let their voices be heard.
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What’s Missing from Common Template Policies
There are many conflict resolution templates available online or through various business incubators or mentorship programs. Many growing businesses use these templates as a shortcut to creating their own methods for resolving workplace disputes. However, these templates are missing key details that your employees will need to resolve their disputes promptly and properly.
Your Company’s Commitment to Your Workers
Templates are designed to work universally. That means they say nothing about your business, your corporate culture, or your commitment to your workers. By the time an employee looks up the policy, things are likely already coming to a head. By including your company’s commitment to your workers and to a healthy workplace environment as part of the policy itself, you can reassure them that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed properly.
Who to Talk To About Resolving Conflict Between Coworkers
Another way that templates fall short is in providing details about the people within your organization. For example, a basic corporate conflict resolution policy may simply direct employees to report their concerns to “HR” or “your supervisor.” This is both impersonal, and imprecise. While it takes some work to maintain, it is better for your policy to name the specific person responsible for receiving and responding to workers concerns within your organization, or at least their title. You can also include an email address where workers can send their written complaints.
What to Do if a Supervisor Falls Short
Often, managers and supervisors are your first line of defense in resolving workplace conflict. However, when the supervisor is the offender, or when their response to the conflict is inadequate, your workers need to know there is more help available. Depending on the size of your organization, state and federal civil rights laws may even require you to inform employees how to register formal discrimination, harassment, or safety complaints that go beyond their immediate superiors. Even if those laws don’t apply, having a corporate conflict resolution policy that explains how and to whom to bring supervisor complaints will give your workers peace of mind. It will also promote a more unified workplace, and keep hostile work environments from forming within the silos of individual teams.
Get Help Creating a Corporate Conflict Resolution Policy for Your Workplace
Your corporate conflict resolution policy should be as individualized as your business. If your business has grown and you are looking to formalize your processes, or if you have been relying on a template that is missing key details, a business consultant can help. A consultant can review your current conflict resolution procedures, identify blind spots and obstacles, and help you create a customized corporate conflict resolution policy tailored to your business and your people. That way, you and your employees address and resolve the obstacles standing between you and a healthy, happy, and productive workplace.
David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping employees and companies resolve workplace disputes. Through facilitated conflict resolution, David helps small and medium-sized businesses prepare for and respond to employee complaints and reduce conflict in their workplaces. Contact us to meet with David to move toward conflict resolution today.