When Should HR Get Involved in Employee Conflicts?-humanresources.vision

When Should HR Get Involved in Employee Conflicts?

In the workplace, disputes will always arise. How should you respond to concerns from workers regarding other people’s behavior? In the first place, specialists advise that you never disregard them.

Although it’s alluring to believe that the issue would go away if you ignore it, HR expert and communications trainer Sharon Lovoy warned that this never occurs.

When there is a concern, employees should be urged to notify HR.

The presence of water on the work floor would make it impossible for anybody to keep silent. Safety is a concern there “Indicated by Lovoy the same is true, she noted, when voicing further worries.

The concern must next be evaluated by HR to see whether interpersonal conflict or more severe conduct is at play.

Myrna L. Maysonet, the chief diversity officer and partner at Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based law firm Greenspoon Marder LLP, urged companies to “take every complaint seriously and [provide] at least a modicum of care to verify [its] authenticity.”

“We endeavor to concentrate HR on red-flagged concerns, identifying issues that may develop into massive problems issues, forms of discrimination, form issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act or Family [and] Medical Leave Act, that type of thing.”

She said that Greenspoon customers are advised to establish a policy to look into all complaints and noted the need of having an anti-discrimination policy, reporting guidelines, and a documentation process for keeping track of facts like the date the complaint was filed and any specifics.

Take prompt action to separate the parties when reports of sexual harassment are made, Maysonet said. Discuss the accused perpetrator with witnesses and any supporting documentation.

Responding to Complaints

However, Maysonet said that when a complaint does not entail equal employment opportunity (EEO) concerns, HR should let managers oversee their employees.

“You don’t want to be the go-to person [workers] come to deal with every small thing,” such as scheduling conflicts or other issues that are the supervisor’s responsibility. You desire that management take care of the regular issues. HR cannot always act as the deciding party. That is impossible for anyone.”

“The aim should be addressing it at the lowest level feasible,” Lovoy said of a complaint about a common problem.

She advocates convening a meeting between the two sides. An apology and an admission that the other party’s behavior was wrong are often all the complaint asks for.

A simple “I’m sorry if I upset you” apology from the other side won’t be accepted, though.

According to Lovoy, you should promote a procedure that brings the accused person together with you so they may have a conversation and help them realize they made a mistake. Include a pledge to act differently in the future in your apology.

Complaints filed anonymously and reprisals

It can be difficult to respond to anonymous complaints, especially if the unnamed complainant doesn’t provide facts like the claimed incident’s date and time, the department or parties involved, or any other relevant information.

David L. Barron, a Philadelphia-based attorney with Cozen O’Connor, emphasized that even if the department is known, speaking with the manager is still worthwhile. It might also be a time for training, even if it’s only a five-minute discussion about respecting one another or the many types of microaggressions at the beginning of a shift.

Retaliation is a major issue, according to Barron, when handling EEO-related complaints made by workers who belong to protected classes. Whether or not the complaint is justified, federal law protects people from retaliation when they claim discrimination at work. Retaliation claims are more difficult for employers to refute.

He stressed the need of having a nonretaliation policy and making it known to all parties concerned in an inquiry, such as witnesses and superiors.

Barron cautioned that a supervisor who has been accused of discriminating against an employee may respond by ignoring the complainant, but such action may give rise to claims of retaliation. He pointed out that the complainant may argue, “People are no longer talking to me. They no longer ask me to lunch. This meeting didn’t include me. It’s a precarious situation because I was unaware of the advertising prospects.”

Guidelines for HR

For HR professionals resolving employee complaints, Lovoy, Barron, and Maysonet provided the following tips:

  • Clearly define acceptable behavior in your policies, and hold workshops to clarify these standards to your staff.
  • It is insufficient, according to Lovoy, to just hand out policies and request that everyone sign them. Train employees on proper conduct and the procedure to use when voicing their concerns.
  • Make the complainant answerable.

   Do you know whether you’ve previously spoken about this with your supervisor? Added Maysonet. Tell the individual to first talk to that person if the response is no.

  • What does the complainant anticipate from HR?

Maysonet said that it would be absurd to expect HR to act on the complainant’s behalf. HR shouldn’t be in the business of controlling things or people; rather, it should serve as a resource and liaison, according to her. You must teach your managers how to manage.

  • Just listen; don’t debate.

Let [the complainant] do the most of the talking, Barron advised. “You have no business debating that person. At the beginning of the interview, listening is more important.” Take notes or get the complainant’s statement, and ask them to recommend a person you should speak with.

  • “Spidey senses” to the rescue!

To ask “What’s happening on?” you must utilize your radar. Added Maysonet. Has the employee ever filed a discrimination complaint? Exists a performance improvement strategy for the employee? A short time after requesting maternity leave, did the employee who filed a discrimination case lose their job? She emphasized that while investigating allegations, “you have to be able to connect things together.”

You may occasionally discover that there are other problems at hand, such as supervisors who permit friends to arrive late or leave early while refusing to do the same for others.

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