Remember that fight two of your employees had that wasn’t fully resolved? It could be the cause of absenteeism, bullying and harassment in your business.
Workplace Mediator Catherine Davidson warns that unresolved conflict between employees can cost businesses big dollars, and could lead to prosecution.
“So many organisations sit on smouldering disputes between employees in the hope that they will go away. Underestimating or ignoring the direct and hidden costs is a big mistake.”
“Employers who sit on unresolved conflict also expose themselves under Occupational Health and Safety legislation which is moving away from physical to psychological risk.”
According to Davidson, many businesses fail to see the link between absenteeism with unresolved conflict, making them slow to appreciate the associated costs.
Medibank Private research has found stress related absenteeism costs the economy $5.12 billion per annum and the cost of employees present but unfit to work is costs local businesses $17 billion.
“These costs are not only measured in dollars, business must also appreciate the opportunity cost of management time spent dealing with complaints and claims while distracted from running the business. We know that 30 – 50 percent of a manager’s time is spent dealing with workplace conflict.”
Businesses wanting to deal with conflict early need to:
- Establish a complaints process;
- Promote a culture which states what is acceptable behaviour when people disagree;
- Actively monitor grievances; and
- Engage external dispute practitioners as soon as possible.
Davidson said employers need to be aware of new obligations, including a positive duty of care for officers of a corporation to exercise due diligence over five key areas.”
“The test is not what officers actually know, but rather what they ought to have known.”