Intervention is effective, but time-consuming and costly in some cases, so preventing conflict at the outset eliminates the need to spend valuable resources. Fortunately, there are numerous types of preventative measures you can use to promote positive relationships and minimise conflict risks.
Effective measures for preventing conflict include:
Workplace changes – a poor workplace layout can cause stress and animosity (e.g. a cramped shop floor, a noisy office, or poor signage) or could put people at risk (i.e. poorly-lit, isolated exits). Reorganise the workplace to reduce or eliminate these issues.
Job role changes – if you identify at an early stage that people are stepping on one another’s toes, discuss changing shifts or job roles with them (you need to ensure it suits their needs). This can also work as a corrective measure if intervention fails.
Training staff – provide staff with training and enough resources to fulfil their role, put them on awareness courses (e.g. equality and diversity) to help them work amiably with others, and provide training in conflict management so they can handle confrontational behaviour appropriately.
Conflict resolution policy – a conflict policy establishes that the company has zero-tolerance for abusive behaviour and will actively tackle confrontations to re-establish cooperation in the workplace. It encourages employees to report concerns and complaints early on so situations don’t escalate.