No workplace can function properly when there’s fighting or resentment among teammates. But workplace conflict is an even bigger problem in law enforcement teams, where lives are on the line.
When police officers and investigators risk their lives as part of the job, they rely on the other members of their team for backup. Similarly, an investigation can only progress when everyone is collaborating and sharing information. If these teams aren’t working together effectively, it can impact the safety of the whole community.
The cost of conflict, harassment and discrimination in the workplace is too high:
- Mental Health suffers, leading to loss of focus, unscheduled leave and in some extreme circumstances officer suicide.
- Productivity decreases because employees waste time arguing and don’t work together.
- The stress and mental health effects on employees increases the number of sick leaves and stress leaves. According to the Conference Board of Canada, “employee absenteeism” cost the Canadian economy more than $16 billion in 2012.
- There’s a higher turnover rate: it’s hard to find and keep good employees in a bad work environment. It’s also expensive to recruit and train each new employee.
- If it’s not dealt with, workplace conflict can lead to costly legal action.
- The workplace environment is awkward, uncomfortable and unpleasant for everyone.
Often, a conflict between two employees can spread to and have an impact on the rest of the workplace. Other employees are called to take sides, creating a divide. A problem between two people ends up cutting the support network and resources in half for the whole team.
How can workplace conflict mediation help?
Conflict mediation provides a safe, respectful and confidential environment for employees to discuss their problems and find solutions.
Many conflicts boil down to simple misunderstandings that, over the years, have built up into major feuds. In guided mediation, people have a chance to explain what they’ve seen and experienced.
Most importantly, in mediation the people involved are the people who come up with and agree to the solutions. It’s not effective to simply order people to “get along”—they need to participate in the process and choose their own actions.
At the end of mediation, each person will have a clearer understanding of the other’s point of view. Both people will agree to a set of actions to stop the same problem (and new ones) from coming up in the future. These actions target the original issue, as well as behaviours that can cause it to build up, like spreading hearsay.
When the rest of the workplace sees the resolution between these two feuding employees, it often sets off a ripple effect. Not only does it remove the divider that split the office into two, it also encourages employees to overcome their own conflicts.
The result is a workplace where all employees feel welcome and can work together effectively as a team.
Prevent problems before they start
As well as mediation, BlueMediation offers workplace assessments, training and policy development to prevent conflict in the first place.
When employees and management are well informed about issues like discrimination and harassment, everyone knows what is expected of them. When a problem starts, managers have the knowledge and tools they need to deal with it before it spirals.
Training and good policies are an investment in the health of your workplace. They give you the best possible start to building a strong, effective team.