A significant driver in the creation of workplace stress and psychological injuries arises through interpersonal conflict between employees when issues are not successfully resolved at an early stage. At times this will result in individuals moving fairly quickly to formal grievance procedures with claims of unacceptable behaviour. Whilst these provisions are indeed there for aggrieved employees to utilise, it is more often the case that if sufficient work and determination to resolve difficult issues was engaged in earlier in the process, a great deal of pain and suffering could have been avoided for all parties concerned.
Wherever possible, an early resolution of difficulties and conflict between staff is to be preferred by using a structured and systematic approach to managing the conflict. In the first instance the goal needs to be for the conflicting parties to attempt to address the issues themselves. If unresolved then support from another colleague, a Health and Safety Representative (HSR), or a Union representative can be obtained that may assist in resolving the issues. Should this not be successful then support and assistance from Human Resources (HR) could be obtained to assist with a degree of mediation and even independent mediation should that be deemed preferable. At all times through the process, staff are able to access the services of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to talk things over with and to look at strategies that may be useful to bring about an early resolution of the conflict.
What do I need to do?
Liaise closely with HR and follow the established Issue Resolution or Complaints Procedures;
Consult with HSRs and employees as to the adequacy or otherwise of the local issue resolution/conflict management process;
If there is conflict or the potential for conflict between employees in the workplace, principals and managers should avail themselves of the support mechanism through the Conflict Resolution Support Service. This service is provided by Converge International and can be arranged by the principal or manager.
Phone: 1300 687 633
The Conflict Resolution Support Service is available for Department employees and managers who need support in addressing workplace conflict. The service provides mediation, case conference and facilitated meetings, conflict coaching and team conflict intervention.
Make sure that adequate information about EAP services is communicated to staff and displayed in the workplace;
Is this an issue that needs wider consultation with focus groups and the discussion of ways to make conflict management safer and more transparent for all parties? If so, liaise with the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 around managing workplace stress issues with a consultative, risk management approach;
Review the integrity of your local processes.
Legislation, guidance and Codes of Practice
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
OHS Advisory Service on ph. 1300 074 715 or email: email@example.com
Employee Safety and Support Services
Fair Work Australia - Bullying and harassment