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Preventing workplace conflict

The employer is responsible for preventing psychological or sexual harassment in their company. The employer is obliged, for instance, to adopt a psychological or sexual harassment prevention and complaints policy and make it available and easily accessible to staff.

It is important to be aware that conflict is one of the main risk factors that can lead to psychological or sexual harassment in the workplace. Preventing conflict in the workplace helps prevent situations of harassment

Conflict occurs when there is a disagreement between people on a specific issue. Several situations can lead to conflicts between workers in a company, for example:

  • an interpersonal conflict
  • a conflict of values
  • differences of opinion on the organization of work
  • a power struggle

Intervening in a conflict

Conflict often reveals that something is not working in the workplace. Sometimes, a simple call to order can resolve the situation. More formal intervention may be required.

Depending on the situation, the employer could, for example:

  • meet with each person involved individually to gain a clear understanding of the situation and establish realistic expectations
  • meet with the people concerned together to help them find solutions and understand their respective needs and interests
  • encourage collaboration to find solutions

Example of a workplace conflict

Nour and Stéphane have been working on the same team for several months. Recently, Nour was appointed to lead a major IT systems modernization project. Stéphane does not agree with this decision.

His behaviour toward Nour changed and he let her know that he should have been the one to be given this responsibility. Since then, Stéphane has limited his collaboration on the project. Relations between Nour and Stéphane are tense and marked by serious communication problems. Stéphane doesn't talk to Nour at all anymore.

This situation could degenerate into harassment if no action is taken to resolve the conflict. Effective management of this conflict could lead to a clarification of the responsibilities of each person concerned and improve relations among staff.

Conflict that is poorly managed or ignored can lead to harassment. Effective conflict management helps to maintain a healthy work climate.

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