Dispute resolution strategies can make the difference between a toxic environment and a growth space.
It’s not uncommon for disputes to crop up in the workplace, no matter how big or small your organisation. It’s normal – expected, in fact when you bring together diverse personalities – but how you manage conflict counts.
A workplace dispute resolution process should promote confidence, inspire leadership and maintain integrity throughout the company. The process or strategy for resolving a workplace dispute must be fair and transparent.
The team at HumanX HR works with teams and individuals both once a conflict has arisen and proactively, as part of a wider HR strategy to prevent disputes, coach conflict management and support growth from these experiences.
60% of employees have never received conflict or workplace dispute training*
So how can team members and managers be expected to navigate these situations, without the skills they need?
Communication is key to any kind of workplace dispute resolution process. Most often, disputes or conflicts actually occur because of a breakdown in communication or a misalignment in communication styles. This speaks to the importance of establishing quality HR foundations and employee relations.
HumanX HR’s role, as an outsourced HR agency, is to be impartial and facilitate smooth communication - between parties and to the wider business.
*pollack, 2022, based on US data.
Dispute Resolution Process with HumanX HR
Understanding the situation at hand
When HumanX is engaged to support a business through conflict in the workplace, our first step is to assess the situation. Although we like to take the stress out of the process, we never want to oversimplify what’s at hand, including the emotions. In many personality-clash situations, we are required to take on the role of workplace mediator. This can be a large undertaking if there are multiple parties or groups of people involved. There are also more serious scenarios, such as harassment, sexual harassment bullying, racism, discrimination and other allegations that would require a workplace investigation. Working with an external team throughout the workplace dispute resolution process promotes impartiality. Our first step is to facilitate conversations with everyone involved, as well as getting a managerial or contextual overview from leaders or internal HR. A one size fits all approach to conflict resolution does not work. We do not wish to take the nuance or grey areas out of a scenario. Our job as a proactive HR agency is to listen to every fact and make every team member feel heard.
Proactive dispute resolution
Disputes in the workplace can be a symptom of a wider experience - and not necessarily a bad one. Often, workplace disputes take place because of rapid but unstructured growth. HumanX can work alongside your team before a conflict emerges as well as after resolution. We help to diagnose and get to the root of problems, perhaps within culture or organisational design.
Moving forwards together
Our experts work with in-house HR to implement HR policies and standard procedures to outline the process and appropriate response when a workplace dispute does arise. Modern leaders will ensure that these policies meet modern workplace standards, especially in relation to sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. A solid process ensures that your team is clear on how to report incidents, how they will be supported, and what to expect from you as their employer.
Effective Workplace Dispute Resolution to Protect People & Businesses
Improperly managed conflicts lead to disgruntled employees and a negative working environment, not to mention significant risk to the business. A lack of transparency can spread fear, further allegations and whispers. A slip in procedural fairness can bring about unfair dismissals, workers compensation claims and even more serious - and costly - outcomes.
Even if you aren’t prepared to manage conflict, we are. And we can help.
We put people first; understanding workplace psychology as much as we do employment law and fair work regulations. You will never fully prevent disagreements, but together, we can create a space that promotes discussion, respect and leaders that are equipped to manage any situation. HumanX HR can help leaders make effective decisions, protect finances and reputation and manage long term impacts of a workplace dispute.
Speak to our HR consultants today.
Disputes in the Workplace FAQs
What is a workplace dispute?
A workplace dispute can be all shapes and sizes, but occur when a disagreement or conflict arises in the workplace. Overtime, small disputes or clashes may become unavoidable, simply due to the number of people and different personality types in a workplace and the number of interactions teams will have. However, larger, perhaps more serious disputes will cause tension and stress in the workplace.
HR experts can be there to help resolve these conflicts so that everyone can work together more harmoniously and successfully move on from the situation.
Who can be involved in a workplace dispute? Who can it be between?
Conflict in the workplace can occur between two or more parties. These can be individuals and this can be at the lower levels in the teams where a personality clash has occurred and it is impacting the workplace experience, environment and potentially even the output. Additional claims of bullying or other behaviour may also have been made.
However, there can also be disputes or conflict between a leader or manager with an individual, as well as the “company” with an individual. This can be for everyday concerns such as miscommunication with direction, a dislike of a particular leadership or management style or working styles.
What are the benefits of involving HumanX to resolve workplace conflict?
Here at HumanX, our team includes specialists in dispute resolution, conflict and investigations as well as employee relations and HR strategy. Firstly, to manage the situation at hand, when you work with HumanX, you’ll be working with confidential, impartial and objective consultants that operate in a way to achieve effective and efficient results, without ever removing empathy from the situation.
Third-party involvement in disputes can promote honesty, as well as an understanding to the wider team that these situations will be taken seriously. Moreover, we have a deep understanding of workplace laws and can advise on any potential ramifications or future actions, sometimes including recommendations for policy and procedure changes. Finally, we are HR and workplace experience experts. This means we’re able to identify trends, potential culture risks or future clashes and help you engage a HR strategy to protect your organisation and the people that power it.
When should a company consult external support or workplace mediators?
- In a case where your HR teams or leaders do not have any previous experience with dispute resolution in the workplace.
- When internal HR professionals or leaders who would typically be called upon to manage these situations already have a full plate. Rather than ignoring or delaying conflict resolution, we highly recommend bringing in someone external to the company to soothe tensions and resolve the situation.
- In the case where a dispute is ongoing between a ‘higher-up’ i.e. a leader, director or manager and an individual team member. Naturally, this can help to prevent the opinion and gossip of any unfairness.
- In the case where disputes in the workplace are ongoing. It may be that there are several personal conflicts going on at once or between teams, i.e. the situation has not been successfully resolved even after following a formal internal process. Seeking external support here could help to remove barriers to resolution and additional HR oversight and strategy for recovering any negative impact here.
Is resolving workplace disputes the same as a workplace investigation?
Not quite, though the distinctions of when to conduct a workplace investigation and when to consult a mediator or manage the dispute yourself can be tricky.
Typically conflict in the workplace or a dispute is a disagreement. Naturally, this has varying levels of severity and can still have a huge impact on the workplace, particularly with employee relations. Disputes must be handled carefully to ensure that no favour is shown and that a fair and equitable resolution can be achieved. This is imperative to maintain trust between your company and individual employees.
However, a workplace investigation is a legal requirement when a serious allegation has been made. Allegations of this severity (sexual harassment, discrimination, gross misconduct, illegal activities etc.) must be investigated adhereing to procedural fairness to ensure a proper and legally-upheld outcome.
Another distinction between a dispute and an investigation are the typical outcomes. You can read more about workplace investigation outcomes in our resource centre, but very, very rarely will a dispute in the workplace result in a dismissal from a company. The aim will be to find a resolution to the conflict and to resume working as normal.
Do you recognise your company in any of these scenarios?
Our HR is too Toby-from-the-office
Everyone has strengths, both as professionals and as people. There are many situations in which using an external HR consultant is a more effective option.
Ultimately, HR can be a tricky position to hold in an organisation; striking the balance between employee-support and communicating the company’s message; empathy versus becoming an agony aunt; being the champion of culture whilst also being the person managing risk.
Bringing in HumanX to support your team means that everyone can play to their strengths. Our experts can create space for critical conversations, feedback honestly, without agenda, and help leaders make decisions based on real information. We can support Toby with performance management plans and work to achieve company goals together.
Our HR department needs support
Modern HR leaders require skills in project management, business strategy, commercial awareness, coaching, talent management, compliance and workplace relations, remuneration, learning and development, and of course recruitment.
Outsourced HR experts can support the internal team without the distractions of politics, everyday requests and growing to do lists. Able to operate as an independent squad with a single focus or integrate into the team and fly alongside the existing HR managers to lead and deliver on projects, new initiatives or help cope with capacity.
Need to get more out of the experts you already have
For business leaders who are craving space – both time and brain-space - a great HR team will understand that it is their job to enable people to do their best work. Choosing the right talent (or inviting the right talent to choose your business), designing a best-in-class learning and development program, and ensuring that your remuneration strategy is on point will help.
The gamechanger: coaching your leaders. This is the space where humans will grow, engage, and find their superpowers. Coaching is a skill in itself, it’s not every leader’s natural state. Great HR professionals have been equipped with coaching skills and understand that coaching is an ego-less journey that is critical to developing exceptional leaders. Structured coaching programs are a brilliant extra, but coaching in the workflow, and in day-to-day interactions between HR and leaders is a valuable must-have.
My team tells me that communication needs improvement
If your team is feeding back to you that communication in the organisation needs improvement, they’re trying to tell you (without risking their jobs) that your communication needs improvement. Whether this is your communication directly, or as a leadership team, or simply internal systems and processes are not effective at allowing the flow of information, we can help.
Bringing external HR experts into a situation like this is efficient; we are able to zoom out and diagnose issues and challenges - from communication that may be causing frustration and high employee turnover to the root cause of disengagement. Better than that, we will also work with your organisation to develop the HR function to resolve any concerns, improve processes and mature the company’s approach to your people.
Make your company stronger. Starting with your people.
HumanX is a HR-first agency; our mission is to work with companies to build positive workplace experiences, challenge the way you think about a traditionally ‘negative’ situation and support growth. Our approach to workplace dispute resolution embodies these values.
Workplace disputes in Australia cost companies $15 billion per year, not to mention the loss in employee engagement and performance. For confidence in your approach to conflict management, speak to a member of our team, today.
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Create a culture of progression, drive employee buy-in and enjoy all the benefits that go with it when you build an employee learning and development program that suits your business. Investing in L&D contributes to better organisational performance. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and adaptable, leading to improved business outcomes, increased revenue, and a competitive advantage in the market.
HumanX is a leading provider of independent, impartial and fair workplace investigation services to organisations dealing with allegations of inappropriate behaviour at work. Most internal teams do not have the experience, capacity or resources to properly investigate workplace complaints without any perceived bias. Outsourcing workplace investigations to an independent firm is a cost effective and practical method that will help you ensure compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks.
With our HR agency, boost your internal capability and see better results in less time. Engage a consultant or team to drive and lead HR initiatives that lead to incredible company-wide results. We can develop or pick up HR projects that you just can’t get traction with or assist with a particular isolated problem.
Your people are your power and your relationships are what connect you. Creating a strong framework for your employee relations can protect your business when you need it most – and when you least expect it. Our employee relations consultants are qualified and bring a human-centric approach to workplace investigations, mediations, disciplinary matters, terminations and other disputes.
How can you expect to build a solid team without solid foundations? Here at HumanX, we know your eyes are set to the future with plans for growth and projects on the horizon, but you can’t get there if your people aren’t with you and you aren’t protected. Work with HumanX to develop functional processes, reliable boundaries and compliances that set your company up for future success and solid HR foundations.