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Inside Dental Technology
April 2020
Volume 11, Issue 4

Proactive Practices for Best Workplace Outcomes

Manage employee relations through thoughtful planning

Brian Forman

In today's business, there are various types of personalities in the workplace, so maintaining a harmonious working environment can be a challenge for many laboratories. Ultimately, open communication, teamwork, and stress management need to be fostered proactively in every workplace to boost both employee morale and productivity.

One of the most important things needed to prevent and resolve workplace conflict is open communication. This requires all employees to be fully engaged with their colleagues every day on a business level. While there may be differences in how to reach a goal, solve a problem, improve a process, or simply get along, communicating will help to air out the differences between employees. The laboratory owner or human resources specialist is responsible for facilitating this process and ensuring that they meet with the impacted employees and their managers to fully understand what the issues are and how to resolve them without escalating it further and resulting in an unproductive situation.

Another skill that is critical to this process is teamwork. Each member of the team has a specific job to perform that contributes to the success of the laboratory. There is often overlap between various departments in order to keep the flow of work moving forward and to meet the client's expectations and timeframe. Teamwork means everyone needs to perform their assigned tasks—if not go above and beyond—in order to demonstrate their full value. An example of this is covering for an absent employee and performing their tasks to ensure there are no delays in the production cycle. It is most successful when everyone offers a helping hand and that help is reciprocated on an ongoing basis.

With the increasing levels of stress in today's work environment, stress management is another area that should be a key focus. While everyone experiences some pressures from their jobs, how employees manage that stress level and how conflict impacts hurt feelings, discomfort, and ultimately job performance have a direct correlation to the morale of employees. This needs to be handled in a healthy manner so that employees can identify how best to manage their stress (eg, an above-average workload or personality conflict with a colleague).

One effective way to help ease workload concerns is to use time management skills. If an employee can designate a specified amount of time to each task rather than trying to do everything at once, this may assist them in prioritizing in what order to complete each task. At other times, the employee could simply take a break and walk away from their workstation to reset themselves.

One of the most sensitive employee relations issues is sexual harassment. This ties in with company policies and how they direct the business's owners or managers to respond to any allegations brought to human resources. This is a complex legal issue for companies and also involves accountability. As one might expect, sexual harassment occurs mostly, but not always, between the manager and a direct report. How the human resources manager responds will depend on how well they are trained in this area. It is of the utmost importance that the business address the complaints in a timely, satisfactory manner to ensure there is full transparency to all impacted parties. Corrective action must be taken if an investigation demonstrates an employee's complaint to be valid. The best way to prevent and/or respond to these types of behaviors is to have a solid training program for managers and employees on proper workplace behavior and how to address any harassment allegations in the event that they occur. In today's work world, there needs to be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

Strong employee relations are only fostered by using a best practices approach and ensuring that the company strongly enforces its policies.

About the Author

Brian Forman, is a Human Resources Generalist with Atelier 4 in Long Island City, New York.

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