The importance of not being idle

The importance of not being idle

By Kylie Barton, CEDR Communications Team

Low morale in the workplace is becoming somewhat of a common trend with over half of public sector employees admitting to it. With huge numbers of unemployed, it is almost a paradox that those in work are unsatisfied with their position.

The current climate however, means that those in work are overstretched. In many industries one person is now doing the job previously completed by several. Such a situation understandably causes stress for said individual, but it is how that stress is managed which is key.

Mr Justice Underhill presented the Government with several recommendations for the streamlining of employment tribunals today, with the foresight that smoother processes may enable parties to consider ADR methods with greater ease. Under his recommendations, judges will be able to dismiss cases unsuitable for court at a much earlier stage.

Employment mediation has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years thanks to various sectors jumping on the bandwagon, and the government pedalling for the cause. The crux of the crises in the employment sector is that there is less money, ergo more work per person. When said person becomes stressed however, this could have a negative effect on the company’s bank balance should the dispute causing the anguish reach a full blown tribunal. The result of the current context is a desperate need for a cheaper, faster dispute resolution method, which ensure staff productivity and wellbeing are at their peak whilst costs are actively minimised.

Sounds like a pretty difficult equation, however the answer is simple:

Staff dispute + reduced budget = Mediation.

A happy workforce are far likely to maintain a healthy client base, and therefore employees within the upper echelons of the company should have a good awareness of their staff relations, and be well equipped to handle any disputes which arise.

Although recent research by ACAS suggests that direct communication is the format favoured by staff, it is clear that a line of professionalism must be created to stop any accusations of harassment.  A recent case involving a well-known animal charity saw a former employee accusing a colleague of sexual harassment after several communication breakdowns which lead to his dismissal. Mediation post dismissal also has it’s uses, as shown from a recent case in Basingstoke, where a female security guard took revenge on her former employer after a disagreement stemming from her settlement by setting fire to the premises she used to guard.

A new study has revealed that the effects of work place disputes and in particular, bullying, have a far wider effect on the staff base than just those directly involved. The research by the New University of British Columbia shows that this is particularly the case in the field of health, where the spread of ‘moral indignation’ leads to the resignation of nurses outside of any particular dispute. Such a case demonstrates the need to nip any sign of conflict in the bud, with a rapid and inexpensive method such as those under the umbrella of ADR.

The bottom line is, the happier staff are in the workplace, the more they will achieve. Perhaps more importantly, the more they will want to achieve. In an age of technological wizardry, the importance of face to face communication is still backed up by the research. Although people are spending more time communicating through third party mediums such as social networking sites, this is not necessarily conducive to good work, even though it may be quicker or easier. With the advance of other formats, human communication arguably has a greater need to be highlighted throughout the senior levels of our institutions to help staff on the ground cope in the current context. So don’t be idle, step ahead of the curve.

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