Conflicts in a work community

Disputes or conflicts sometimes arise in almost all work communities. As an employer, you play a key role in identifying and solving problems in the work community.

Disputes may arise when your employees have different perspectives on matters. This should not be seen as a negative thing if the disputes stem from different ideas about developing the activities or work in your work community. At best, different viewpoints can help improve your business operations and work efficiency. Aim to make your work community a place where it is easy to discuss different views in a constructive manner.  

If the disputes are caused by issues such as discrimination or other inappropriate conduct, it is essential to address the matter as early as possible. Although your employees may be able to identify workplace bullying, your responsibility as the employer is to take concrete measures against it:  

  • Encourage the members of your work community to be open and tell you if they encounter discrimination, bullying or violence. 
  • In case of a conflict, try to resolve the situation by listening to all involved parties. 
  • Work together to find a solution that suits everyone. 
  • Find out what caused the conflict in the first place and consider if there is something in the work community or work that can be changed to prevent the problem from recurring. 
  • Together with your work community, establish an operating model for conflict situations, if one does not already exist. 

The Centre for Occupational Safety offers comprehensive guidelines for dealing with conflicts in a work community: 

There is diversity in every work community 

Make diversity an asset and a competitive advantage for your work community. There is diversity in every work community, and it is essential that all employees are treated in the same, non-discriminatory manner by the employer. Make sure that all employees are treated equally and respectfully and address any disputes or conflicts that may arise. Discuss the topic of equality and possible discrimination issues with your employees individually and as a group. For example, development discussions are a good opportunity to find out if there are any equality-related problems at the workplace.  

Remember equality and non-discrimination in all situations: when you are recruiting new employees, providing employees with orientation, distributing tasks, promoting employees or letting them go. You can also make sure that everyone in your work community is familiar with the grounds of discrimination that are prohibited by law. You should also prepare an equality plan, keep it up-to-date and introduce it to your employees.