Workplace Investigations and Conflict: Dealing with the Aftermath
No matter how well a workplace investigation is planned or performed, the investigation process itself tends to leave a wake of tension and discomfort in the workplace environment. Despite whether the complaint is substantiated or not, hurt feelings and lingering emotions often remain.
Ignoring the fallout of a conflict or restoring the workplace after a stressful event—be it an investigation, bullying, harassment, disruptive organizational change, or COVID—can derail entire workplaces and can lead to costly legal disputes. The investigation may be complete, but the real work of restoring workplace relations is just beginning.
What Is Workplace Restoration?
The goal of a workplace restoration process is to re-establish working relationships so employees (or members of a team) can move on following a traumatic event or prolonged conflict. Workplace restoration is a supportive process that can be an effective way to address any significant disruption in workplace relations. It may involve only a handful of employees, a department or team, or an entire organization.
Benefits of the workplace restoration process include:
the establishing of mutual trust
creating a space for respectful engagement
Additionally, a well-executed workplace restoration process provides an opportunity for people to let go of any built-up bitterness and focus on their work, as opposed to feeling consumed by dysfunctional conflict.
A workplace restoration framework enables employees to be heard, collaborate on moving forward, and help get things back on track.
Activities may include:
conflict coaching (individual and team)
communication assessments (individual and team)
facilitated group sessions
How Do I Know If My Organization Would Benefit from a Workplace Restoration Process?
Every workplace is different and therefore restoring a workplace is not one-size-fits-all. However, if your organization or team has experienced a recent formal investigation, is declining in morale or productivity, or has experienced a difficult change, a customized workplace restoration approach can help reinvigorate engagement and productivity and re-establish a culture of psychological safety.
By promoting a positive and healthy work environment through workplace restoration initiatives, employers can create a culture of trust and mutual respect that fosters employee engagement, retention, and job satisfaction.