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3 HR best practices to limit workplace conflict

Policy handbooks

For a more tips on how to avoid common HR mistakes, watch Stacey Dennis’ webinar on-demand.

While a degree of conflict in the workplace is inevitable – and can be healthy in certain circumstances – it should never halt productivity in your business. There are many ways that you, as a leader, can cultivate a more harmonious environment. A strong employee handbook that communicates clear expectations, combined with regular employee check-ins and positive leadership, is a great place to start.

Follow these three tips to help get (and keep) your workforce in sync.

1. Develop a solid employee handbook
A company handbook can be a powerful resource. It allows you to set the framework for what your employees can expect from your company and what your company expects from them. Not only will this help reduce confusion and frustration among your staff, but it will also help employees avoid unnecessary challenges and free them to focus on their job duties.

On top of that, handbooks are an excellent tool to handle an array of issues – from resolving employee conflict to offering a defense for your company when it’s needed. Unfortunately, when your employee handbook isn’t clear, it can cause big problems. For instance, say an employee makes a time-off request, but you decide not to grant it. If there are no stipulations around vacation requests in your handbook, an employee may perceive your decision to be unfair. Over time, this can lead to unhappy employees and, in turn, negative behavior.

As you develop your employee handbook, be sure to include your policies on the following:

  • Code of conduct
  • Communication
  • Nondiscrimination
  • Compensation and benefits (including PTO)
  • Employment and termination

You should also include an acknowledgment page that your employees sign during onboarding, so that all employees receive the same instruction upon hire.

2. Have regular check-ins
Your employees want to hear from you on a regular basis. When you take the time to meet with them, you demonstrate that you’re invested in their success and ongoing growth. It also keeps employees focused on goals and achieving desired workplace behaviors.

To start, you’ll need to determine the frequency and length of these meetings. For example, will you meet every week for a 30-minute session, or is it better to have a one-hour meeting every other week? By developing a plan, you put in place an ongoing process that will ensure these conversations happen.

During check-ins, use the time to celebrate achievements and provide feedback on their performance. If and when employees get off track, use this time to provide guidance on how they can improve. When providing feedback, always take a positive approach. For example, you might ask, “Next time, what would you do differently?”

3. Provide positive leadership
There’s no denying it – your people are your greatest asset. That’s why the way you manage them matters so much. A good leader can frame things positively, even when times are tough.
Take an honest look at your management style. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you communicate your company’s values continuously?
  • Can employees rely on you to be a good example of how they should conduct themselves?
  • Do your employees feel valued?
  • Do your employees understand how their work supports your company’s mission?
  • Do employees feel that their opinions matter?
  • Do employees feel they’re trusted to make decisions?
  • Are employees being recognized for a job well done?

These are all factors that impact the way employees behave in the workplace. In a positive company culture, employees are empowered, valued and trusted to do their best work.
Move forward with confidence

Building a positive workplace not only creates a harmonious environment for your employees – it also positions your company to retain top-performing employees with greater ease and increase your business’s success. It’s a win-win all around.

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