Conflict in the workplace can create huge risk in the workplace. It impacts negatively on productivity, absenteeism, culture and retention.
Trying to manage conflict internally often results in unintentional consequences such as: heated arguments, sides being taken, relationship breakdowns and claims: workers compensation, discrimination, unfair dismissal, bullying and harassment.
Not to mention, the stress it causes for managers who feel out of their depth in managing such situations.
The Fair Workers Commission 5051 case Jones v Karisma Joinery came from a dispute on where an employee could park his vehicle, involved abusive expletive-laden tirade telephone calls to his manager and ended with a swift dismissal with no mediation support.
The management team were shocked with the events that unfolded and decided to end the employee’s employment that day, due to serious misconduct. Without talking to the employee, the management team sent out the dismissal via an email to the employee without the opportunity for a conversation, a support person or mediation.
The employee didn’t read his emails that night and returned to the workplace the next morning with no idea he had been terminated. This then lead to the unfair dismissal claim.
The commission did agree the employee’s conducted was serious misbehaviour and found the employers’ procedural errors resulted in a harsh and non-just dismissal. The employee was denied natural justice and the termination via email was severe and entirely inappropriate.
It is highly recommended that any employee termination is to be conducted face to face, with the opportunity for the employee to respond and to have a support person with them. Avoid emails, text messages, and telephone calls.
One option the employer could have sought out prior to the dismissal is a mediation service. This is a neutral party to resolve conflict in the workplace.
Using the services of a trained mediator can bring a level of independence, objectivity and calm to the situation as they are not emotionally attached to the situation.
Mediators will guide the parties through the obstacles, skillfully navigating to help resolve the internal conflict and keep the team happy, healthy and productive.
Why use an external mediator?
- Guided by the Mediator, the parties reach the outcome together
- Mediators are trained to handle complex and emotionally charged situations
- Discussions are confidential, respectful and open
- The Mediator is neutral and independent
- Each party has opportunity to be heard and involved in a ‘safe’-setting
- Mediated agreements are more likely to be effective, durable and positive as the parties have determined the outcome together