Alternative Dispute Resolution: How It Can Be Used To Ease Workplace Conflicts

The cases of conflict arising in the workplace have been commonplace since decades and with COVID situation it gets no better. The fight isn’t over yet and there could be even tougher times ahead. The economy is already in shambles and unemployment rates are at their worst in history. Nobody would have predicted this a few years ago. Employees are being pushed to their limits and so are the companies that they are working with. There are too many changes happening in the workplace for people to take them in their stride. While the moments of caring and sympathy have increased amongst employees, the cases of team conflicts have also seen a significant rise. If organizations allow the conflicts to build up without addressing them and ensuring that they are dealt with in the right way, it could hamper productivity and make things even worse during the pandemic. A good way to deal with internal conflicts in the workplace is through alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Workplace conflict never left the workplace even during the pandemic. The reasons for conflicts were different though. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the professional futures of employees across the world. People who are not used to working remotely on a regular basis are finding it very tough to come to terms with the requirements of this new mode of working. Having to set up a place in their homes where there is little to no disturbance and at the same time, being asked to help with managing home chores isn’t going down too well with a lot of people. The pressure is taking its toll and is resulting in more cases of conflicts in the workplace.

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Alternative dispute resolution method emphasizes the role of communications in the workplace for resolving conflicts between employees. Adoption of disputes resolution offers organizations a conflict resolution skill set to not only prevent conflicts from arising but also properly dealing with those that are already there. Communication is the key in almost everything good that happens inside a workplace. Healthy conversations do away with things that create tension between employees and help them see the positive side of collaboration. Trust can go a long way in eliminating differences and building lasting professional relationships.

Alternative dispute resolution provides organizations with a way of workplace conflict resolution that is based on dialogue. When you facilitate dialogues amongst employees that are finding it tough to balance the problems in their personal lives and the uncertainty and issues in their professional lives, you give them a way to vent out their frustration without choosing a violent way of doing so.

It is important for organizations to realize that tension, stress, and conflicts can take the better of their employees in a situation that’s already gone beyond the worse predictions made by experts. If there isn’t a proper framework in place to address these concerns and promote easy communication between different levels of an organization, this stress and tension will result in more conflicts, leading to HR challenges in the form of grievances that they will have to work overtime to handle. What organizations need is an alternative dispute resolution system in place that can help their employees at every level to not only have honest conversations with each other but also know that they are being heard and that their opinion matters.

One way of facilitating better communication amongst employees to prevent and resolve internal disputes is by holding dialogue sessions on a regular basis. Having everyone sit in close proximity to say their thing is how it should be but as this cannot be done right now due to the pandemic, online communication apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams can be used to hold these sessions at least once every week. The key to ensuring that these dialogue sessions deliver expected results is to get everyone involved – right from those that have recently joined to the CEO of the company. This is how the employees will believe that their voices are being heard by everyone, including the top decision-makers.

The need of this alternative dispute resolution technique that focuses on improving communication in the workplace has never been felt more than the current times. The importance of holding dialogue sessions can help employees deal with stress in a better way and openly talk about things that are creating tensions amongst them. Not only this, these sessions can also make organizations learn about areas and policies that they need to work upon and improve. These are those policies that employees are not too happy with. So these conversations give them a perspective that they should have taken into consideration at the time they were building those policies.

Improving communication through dialogue sessions also allows employees to be a part of the bigger picture. They know that they can come up with ideas and share with those sitting on the highest perch. It also helps the organization bring in reforms that have been sitting in the lockers for years. When employees know how important they are to the success of their organization, they will do their best to contribute to the cause.

For organizations to ensure that this communication technique of alternative dispute resolution has the desired impact, they need to have a communication expert either to act as a moderator or train some of their supervisors or managers on how they can hold these dialogue sessions to help employees deal with stress and tensions that can lead to conflicts amongst them.

Managing workplace relationships has never been more important. In the times of remote working, when employees are not working from the same office like they used to, the chances of misunderstandings and conflicts arising are higher than ever.  So this is not the time to turn away from disputes in the workplace. This is the time to deal with them in a timely and fair way.

Reference: “What our ancestors can teach CEOs about creating an inclusive, equitable culture” | Yvette Durazo | 11 August 2020

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