09 JunHow to address staff conflict

Posted on 09 Jun 2022

In any workplace there are a variety of approaches and personalities that come together for a common purpose. In the early education sector we aim to achieve excellence and equity in the education and care delivered. Sometimes, however, the approaches and personalities of staff may differ or conflict with each other. The employer has a duty of care to all staff and, from this perspective, has a duty to address and resolve the conflict, which may involve mediation or, in more serious cases, an external workplace investigation. 

  1. Mediation

Often staff conflict is due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication and, if not addressed, may develop into something more serious. This is usually between two individuals, however, may include others. An avenue that has a strong track record of success is mediation. This is where a qualified and nationally accredited mediator brings the parties together to discuss their differences and work towards an agreed outcome.

The role of the mediator is to facilitate the process in a respectful environment. Mediation is a voluntary process and cannot be imposed. Sometimes an aggrieved staff member may wish to lodge a complaint instead.

  1. External workplace investigation

Staff conflict may involve one staff member making complaints against another. If the other employee denies any wrongdoing then the employer may be obliged to investigate to determine what has occurred.

If the conduct being alleged is serious and/or may lead to disciplinary action and/or termination of employment then it is recommended an appropriately experienced external investigator conducts this process. This will involve interviewing the complainant, relevant witnesses, reviewing relevant evidence, providing the respondent a right of reply and then making findings on the ‘balance of probabilities’. The rules of procedural fairness underpin any workplace investigation.

Our ELAA Preferred Consultancy Partner, EC Workplace, support members with mediation and workplace investigation services. For further information CLICK HERE

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