How can HR Resolve Workplace Conflicts?

The role of HR is essential in maintaining the peace and sanctity of the workplace, which enhances company growth. They must understand how employees respond and communicate, be transparent, hear both sides of the story and try to reach an amicable conclusion.

Workplace conflict is more common than you think, due to different personalities, ages, genders and backgrounds all working together. Though most disputes are solved by the participants themselves, sometimes, they can get out of hand. Seemingly minute issues can turn into heated arguments that could get emotional, even physical.

The causes of workplace conflict can be many — intense competition for status or power, feelings of jealousy or resentment towards a colleague or even neglect by the supervisor. Any or all of them contribute to a toxic work culture that nobody wants to work in every day. And here is where the role of HR is essential.

In these cases, the department of human resources has to step up and take control of the matters. They have to understand the situation, resolve issues and, if needed, report the same to the management board. They must be careful about their body language and communication style to grasp what is going on in the workplace.

Also, they must understand how employees respond and communicate with certain things and mediate sensibly. Simple acts such as being transparent, hearing both sides of the story and reaching an amicable conclusion are challenging tasks. The role of HR is essential in maintaining the peace and sanctity of the workplace, which enhances company growth. Here are some ways in which you, as an HR representative, do so:

  • Have an open discussion

Sit down with the conflicting parties and listen to the grievances, talking about what is right and what is not. Ask them about what changes should be implemented to ease out the problems, and focus on resolving the matter. Let them know that their issues must not hinder their work unless it is something serious. Act as a coach instead of a problem solver, and you will find that the employee will find long-term solutions to counter their differences. Be proactive about the decision taken, otherwise, the employees will soon lose trust in the HR’s capability of handling future conflicts.

  • Be clear and consistent

The company executive and leaders are the major masterminds behind each decision, policy change and new implementations. Not just the HR professionals and managers, it is every employee’s responsibility to handle the issue. Short-term ignorance won’t help fix the problem but think of long-term solutions when you deal with conflict.

  • Be impartial, empathetic but professional

Participating in a workplace conflict is embarrassing enough as it is, and nobody likes a lecture to be added to all that stress. Being respectful and genuine in your suggestions makes them want to be helped, and they will understand and appreciate the message.

  • Ask insightful questions for creative solutions

Never try to resolve a conflict with prejudiced assumptions and judgements, for you could always be wrong. Remain neutral and open to possibilities, and ask questions about things that you don’t know. Though it is stressful to deal with multiple issues at the same time, remind them that they share a common goal to work together and move towards the growth of the company.

  • Maintain the focus of the discussion

Frustration, betrayal and hurt are strong emotions, and employees can get defensive. Keep a check on their behaviour, voice and boundaries and resolve their problems. Reframe the conflict, tackle the concerns, agree on common grounds and see things from different perspectives.

  • Emphasise on the similarities

Large or international corporations employ people from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, and that could cause conflicts. Employees could be uncomfortable with some of the differences, and the HR department must develop strategies to resolve conflicts in the workplace. One of the first things that they need to do is to focus on the similarities between the employees, that we are all human beings. They must reiterate the ‘we are one’ aspect while maintaining workflow and strengthening the team. Listen to both sides of the story and understand each party’s point of conflict, and work out a solution together.

  • Maintain a harmonious working environment

Though it is easier said than done, it is vital to create a congenial working environment between employees. If the HR department is successful in fostering trust and respect between teams, employees will feel free to communicate and discuss their issues with one other. Lighten up the work atmosphere with snacks, entertainment and relaxation, which could help in preventing conflicts to some extent.

People with diverse mindsets invent innovative solutions that will help all the employees and enhance the company culture. The HR must meet the employees separately to gain different perspectives on the conflict and how to navigate towards finding a solution. As most HR professionals would say — the best solutions are conceived by the employees themselves.

  • Mind the tension areas

Always keep a check on the employees to check for budding tension before they blow up into a heated argument, which requires an in-depth knowledge of human emotions, rationale and relationships. Focus on the minutest details and notice differences between employees. Encourage coming up to the HR professionals to share their problems to eliminate major issues before they happen. Once they start trusting you with their issues, you will realise that problems can be solved by the team itself before it reaches the management team.

  • Follow up with the employees

HR professionals are swamped with too much work to focus on conflict resolution strategies for too long, but it will take just a simple question to check if conflicts are under control. Ensure that progress has been made and whether employees need any additional support.

As an HR professional, it is your responsibility to provide an inclusive working environment where employees are happy to collaborate and innovate together. In this day and age, team members need to invest in the company to further their personal, career and company growth. Therefore, HR professionals are part of an extremely crucial department who sustain the smooth running of the organisation.

Now that we know how important the HR department is in developing strategies for managing conflict, we must appreciate them for their contribution.

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