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When looking for a California job, you may be asked about your experience with conflict management. Employers value employees who are able to resolve workplace conflicts efficiently and effectively. Here’s why.

Conflicts are nearly impossible to avoid

No workplace is perfect, and there will always be disagreements among employees. Having a staff member who is skilled at conflict management can help to diffuse tense situations and prevent them from escalating.

On top of that, workplace conflicts can be a drain on productivity. If left unresolved, they can fester and cause employees to become resentful of one another. This can lead to a toxic work environment and a high turnover rate.

Conflicts can be expensive

Not only can workplace conflicts be a drain on productivity, but they can also be expensive for employers. If a conflict escalates, an employer may end up spending money on mediation or legal fees. Also, if an employee quits or is fired because of a workplace conflict, the employer will incur the cost of finding and training a replacement.

It’s much cheaper to prevent workplace conflicts from happening in the first place. That’s where having a staff member skilled in conflict management comes in.

Employers want to avoid liability

Another reason employers value employees with conflict management skills is that it can help to avoid liability. If an employee is harassed or discriminated against at work, the employer can be held liable.

Imagine a workplace conflict that escalates into a physical altercation. If an employee is injured, the employer could be sued. Having an employee who is skilled at conflict management or workplace mediation can help to prevent these kinds of situations from happening.

It shows you’re a team player

When you’re able to effectively manage workplace conflicts, it shows that you’re a team player. Employers want employees who are able to work well with others and who are committed to the success of the company. Conflict management skills are just one way to show that you have these qualities.

When you walk into your California workplace, do you dread the thought of interacting with certain coworker conflicts? Do you feel like every day is a battle, and you’re constantly walking on eggshells? If so, you’re not alone. Workplace disputes are common, and they can be extremely stressful. Luckily, there are ways to deal with them effectively.

Communicate and facilitate effective communication

One of the most important things you can do when dealing with workplace disputes is to facilitate effective communication. This means creating an environment where people feel comfortable communicating with each other and where they feel like their concerns will be heard. It also means being clear and direct in your own communication and making sure that everyone understands what is expected of them.

Be open to compromise

In any dispute, it’s important to be willing to compromise. This doesn’t mean that you have to give in to everything that the other person wants, but it does mean being willing to meet them halfway. By compromising, you can find a solution that works for both parties involved.

Boost team engagement

Another way to deal with workplace disputes is to boost team engagement. This means creating a positive and supportive work environment where people feel like they are part of a team. When people feel like they are part of something larger, they’re less likely to bicker and fight with each other.

Address problems head-on

Finally, it’s important to address problems head-on. This means dealing with conflict as soon as it arises rather than letting it fester and grow. By addressing problems quickly, you can prevent them from escalating into larger issues. For instance, if you see two people arguing, step in and mediate the situation.

Seek help

If you’re having difficulty dealing with workplace disputes on your own, you should consider seeking professional help. There are qualified professionals who can help you to resolve conflict and create a more positive work environment.

Dealing with workplace disputes can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that there are ways to deal with them effectively. With effort, you can help create a positive and productive workplace.

A study has confirmed what many people have known for a while: The older you are, the higher the likelihood that you’ll deal with age discrimination at work. Researchers for the study created fictional resumes for applicants in three age groups: 29-31, 49-51, and 64-66.

The researchers applied to more than 40,000 jobs and found that people in the 64-66 age group received 35% fewer callbacks than those in the 29-31 age group. As a California business owner, here are some things you can do to fight age discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion in your company.

How does age discrimination affect your company?

Over the last 15 years, ageism cases made up 20-25% of all EEOC cases. Age discrimination cases usually garner the highest payouts as well. In 2013 alone, people who filed ageism cases received $93.9 million in compensation.

Diversity and inclusion are essential for businesses because it keeps companies from risking a huge settlement. When your company excludes older individuals, you’ll also miss out on the talent and expertise they can bring to your team. Fortunately, change is imminent. Businesses are actively looking for ways to avoid ageism.

Diversity and discrimination training

To protect your business from age discrimination claims, your managers and team members should attend training on diversity and inclusion. The training will give your employees a clearer understanding of the benefits of age diversity as well as the penalties for discriminating against individuals based on age.

It is also important for you to establish and enforce policies discouraging discrimination. Don’t assume that your employees will understand that ageism is not permitted in your workplace.

You need to clarify the policies and be sure that everyone who works for your company is aware of the policies. Make it clear that your business will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. This helps you create a better working environment for employees of all ages.

Over time, California workplaces may have negative energy when employees run into problems. However, there are ways to prevent these issues from becoming bigger. Employers can take measures such as workplace mediation to settle things.

Encourage open communication

Workplace mediation encourages open communication among all parties. If two employees are having a dispute, having them discuss things calmly and civilly can give them a chance to get the situation out in the open. Rational communication with supervisors and with each other can improve things.

Request employee feedback

Employers should also encourage feedback from employees. It can help the workplace as a whole when there’s feedback, regardless of whether it’s negative or positive. The discussion among employees and managers should be done in a way that’s diplomatic and relaxed.

Respond immediately to disputes

Human resources should immediately respond to any disputes among employees. Waiting to engage in workplace mediation can have a negative impact as it can be ineffective, and problems that could have been solved early on may escalate.

HR should carefully review the situation and investigate it. All records should be saved and stored in a safe place. After thoroughly investigating, HR should check with the complaining employee to see whether the problem was solved to their satisfaction.

Create a system

Creating a system for dealing with problems is important. It should also be clearly communicated to all employees. Issuing a bulletin via email or print is one way to do that. Employers can also include a section on the system the company uses for workplace mediation in the employee handbook.

The system should be tested to see if it’s effective. It can give insight into whether there’s still room for improvement or if the system will work to settle problems in the workplace.

Offer therapy sessions if necessary

Workplace mediation can include therapy sessions if it might help settle issues among employees. It might even be possible to bring in an outside mediator to help settle disputes in the workplace. It may benefit employee relationships and make for a better working environment.

Are you meeting your obligations to promote diversity in the workplace? It can be difficult to know if you do not have a clear idea of what workplace diversity looks like. Essentially, your workplace should reflect the larger world in which your company exists, with all different genders, races, nationalities and ethnicities represented at all levels. 

While defining diversity can be difficult, it may be helpful to understand two different types of diversity: Acquired and inherent. 

Acquired diversity

According to the HR Exchange Network, acquired diversity refers to traits that your current and prospective employees gain through life experience. Examples of acquired diversity include language skills obtained from traveling abroad, communicating with a relative who came to the United States from a foreign country, etc. Acquired diversity also refers to a broader mindset when it comes to approaching cultural differences. 

Inherent diversity

Inherent diversity refers to traits that are present from birth, such as race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Underrepresentation affects many members of groups such as these. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to make an effort toward greater inclusion. 

Note that “gender” in this context does not refer to the sex assigned to an individual at birth. Rather, it refers to one’s gender identity, which may or may not align with assigned sex but is nevertheless an inherent trait. 

Both inherent diversity and acquired diversity are important to make your workplace truly inclusive. There are not only legal and ethical reasons to include more diversity but business reasons as well. Research shows that if you hire employees with at least three acquired and inherent diversity traits apiece, you are more likely to see company growth and increased performance. 

Despite your attempts to comply with all local, state and federal regulations regarding employment, you may eventually find yourself in dispute with a current or former employee. Alternative dispute resolution techniques are available in place of litigation and offer benefits to you and your employee alike.

There are multiple ADR options available. Among those often used are arbitration and mediation. Though they seem similar on the surface, they are fundamentally different.

Arbitration

Arbitration is similar to litigation in that a third party presides over the proceedings and makes a decision after hearing both sides present their cases. In many instances, the arbitrator’s decision is legally binding, meaning that both you and your employee must abide by it.

Arbitration is different from litigation in that it takes place in a less formal setting and is often less expensive.

Mediation

The goal of mediation is for both parties to work together to come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial. Mediation is confidential and voluntary. Once the process has begun, either party can choose to put a stop to it. Nothing discussed during mediation needs to become part of the public record after the fact, which is beneficial if it involves matters that may be sensitive or embarrassing for either you or your employee.

Like arbitration, mediation involves a neutral third party. However, the mediator’s role is different from that of the arbitrator in that he or she tries to facilitate productive discussions between the two parties. The mediator does not make any decisions or judgments about the case as the arbitrator does. Like arbitration, mediation is less expensive than litigation and does not take as long, typically requiring only one session.

As sexual harassment cases seemingly become more frequent, business owners have a reason to be worried. Sexual harassment cases can be bad for employee morale and for business.

For business owners who are concerned someone on their management staff could exhibit behavior that leads to a #MeToo moment, there are steps to take. Here are three things to do to create a work environment that is not susceptible to sexual harassment.

1. Hold partners accountable

One way businesses can reduce sexual harassment claims and weed out bad actors is by dedicating to working only with the best vendors. It creates a supply chain of trustworthy companies, which ripples into your own company’s culture.

Some consumers are pushing companies to do this. As an example, the Coalition of Immolake workers persuaded consumers to only buy from food sellers who are certified “Fair Food Farms,” and the workers pressured companies to “sign legally-binding agreements promising to only source tomatoes from Fair Food Farms with no outstanding wage theft, trafficking, sexual harassment, or other issues.”

It led to several disciplinary actions and firings, and recent food seasons have shown more companies with zero harassment instances. Companies can hold their vendors to that standard without consumer pressure, which sends a message to their own employee base.

2. Promote more women

Research has shown that having more women in management positions reduces sexual harassment at work. Even though the management team may not be the perpetrators, incidents can sometimes be taken less seriously by those managers, which leads to a sexual harassment lawsuit from an employee. Having more equity in management can affect workplace culture positively.

3. Take accusations seriously

If an employee does make a complaint, don’t brush it off – even if it doesn’t sound that serious to you. An incident that seems innocuous to you could be painful for the employee and make the workplace a hostile environment, which could lead to a lawsuit. Investigate it and get human resources involved. It sends a message to the team that you take accusations seriously, and it can impact the culture in a big way to avoid future issues.

While there is no way to completely prevent your employees from committing sexual harassment, these three items can make a big difference in creating a workplace where harassment isn’t tolerated.

If the time has come to let an employee go, it is likely a task you are not relishing. Terminating an employee is one of the most difficult and potentially emotional parts of your job, and it may never get easier as time passes. Nevertheless, you realize that, for whatever reason, keeping certain people on the payroll is no longer a viable option for your California company.

There is always a risk involved in firing someone. A disgruntled employee can cause untold damage to your business, taking up time and money with litigation and potentially causing irreparable damage to the reputation of your company. One way to head that off is by offering a severance package.

Do you need assurance?

Federal laws do not require you to offer a severance package to a terminated employee unless your employee’s contract dictates such an agreement. In any other case, it is an option you may exercise if you feel the circumstances call for it. Some situations that may suggest you should consider offering a severance agreement include the following:

  • You are concerned that your former employee will seek a job with your direct competitor or start a rival business of his or her own.
  • You want to protect trade secrets and customer information that you fear your employee will take upon termination.
  • You suspect your former employee may try to recruit or rally other employees to leave your business.
  • You fear your employee may damage your company’s reputation by publicizing private details of the termination or spreading negative comments about your organization.
  • You want to avoid paying your worker unemployment benefits.
  • You suspect your employee may file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

The severance package you offer can include contracts prohibiting any of the above actions. In return for your employee’s signature on these documents, you may offer your employee a payout that equals between one and four weeks pay for each year of service. You may also throw in an extension of health benefits and a positive letter of recommendation. All these terms can be negotiated, so you may seek the advice of your attorney for the best first offer that leaves room for bargaining.

Finding a balance is important. You want to make your offer attractive enough to obtain the signatures you desire, but you don’t want to set a precedent that will bankrupt your business. Your attorney can offer advice and be involved in every aspect of the negotiation process. You may find that mediation is the most effective way to reach an agreement that protects your business and satisfies your employee.

Business needs are a common aspect of owning and running a company. In many cases, those needs also coincide with keeping employees happy. Unfortunately, problems can arise within a business and its operations that make it difficult for you and your employees to see eye-to-eye. In some cases, the issues may not prove easy to resolve on your own, and as a result, you could face legal action if your employees feel unsatisfied.

Before immediately heading toward litigation to end an employment dispute, you may wish to determine whether an alternative method could prove effective. You may find it worthwhile to explore mediation as a possible option for resolving issues.

Mediation

With mediation, you and the other party involved in the dispute meet with a third-party, unbiased mediator. During the process, the mediator helps each side understand the other’s stance and determine what could help each party feel satisfied that they have addressed the problem. If discussion begins to get off track or break down, the mediator can guide the conversation back to the topic at hand and keep negotiations flowing. The main goal of the process is to come to terms in the most agreeable manner for resolving the dispute.

Benefits of mediation

This type of dispute resolution method can offer a variety of benefits that litigation may not. For instance, the costs of mediation typically fall far below those associated with full court proceedings, and the process often takes less time. Additionally, the end results of mediation typically come as agreements made between both sides.

Of course, not all mediation proceedings have a completely successful outcome in terms of the individuals coming to an agreement. However, attempting this method can allow both parties to hear the other side and better understand what exact issues need addressing. If you find yourself facing a mediation that comes to a standstill, you can still move forward with litigation if that route seems necessary, in order to ensure that your business-related issues get resolved.

Finding a mediator

Because mediation differs from litigation proceedings, you need a trained mediator to handle your case. Many mediators also serve as litigation attorneys and therefore understand the laws necessary to address the issues presented with your predicament. You may wish to explore your options for obtaining the assistance of such a trained professional in California and better understand how mediation could potentially work in your favor when it comes to resolving disputes.