Employment disputes often equate to financial losses and organizational unrest. They’re frustrating not only to the employer and the employees directly involved but to the company as a whole. Rarely do these things happen without everybody in the office knowing a thing or two about the dispute. How you handle it as an employer will significantly impact your relationship with the rest of your staff.
No matter the nature of the dispute, it’s your priority to try and avoid it from escalating into a stressful legal proceeding. This is why it’s important for first-time entrepreneurs to know these three things about employee disputes early on so that you can efficiently handle them when they transpire.
It’s Good to Anticipate the Most Common Disputes
Regardless of how careful you are and how good your leadership team is, employment disputes will always happen in one form or another. It’s healthy for employers to anticipate them so that you’re not caught off guard when they happen.
Some of the most common disputes occur when employees make allegations against the company, specifically with regards to workplace obligations and discrimination. When they feel that they’ve been bullied, unfairly treated, and wrongfully terminated, it’s important that you know exactly how to respond to these claims. As the employer, it’s tempting to go on the defensive at once and dismiss them as false allegations, but should there be some truth to it, then you could end up facing legal problems.
The better prepared you are to cater to these events, the better you’ll be able to handle them as soon as they’re raised. Remember that the majority of employees who bring up these concerns usually do so with the willingness to cooperate with their supervisors and human resources manager. It’s only when they feel they’re not being treated seriously or justly that they may get their own counsel. You won’t want that to happen, and one way to avoid this is by having established policies early in your business years.
It’s Good to Have Policies
Enforcing policies give employees a structured way to handle concerns that they want to raise. It also gives you and your leadership team an effective guideline to lean on when handling frustrating cases that put you in danger of making wrong decisions. These policies aim not only to address disputes in a structured way but to hopefully minimize them to avoid legal proceedings.
Assess the soundness of your policies by determining whether they provide guidance to both employees and employers so that they can continue to have a good professional relationship. Are these policies simple and logical? If you’ve used them in handling disputes before, have you improved upon them since to address policy errors? Above all, do you make fair proceedings available through mediation?
Employment mediation is done by a neutral party who wouldn’t have the biased stance of a supervisor or an HR manager. Employees often feel that they achieve more just resolutions through third-party mediation, which is why including this in your process is valuable.
It’s Good to Have Legal Counsel
While you won’t want your legal counsel facing your employees in an otherwise simple and non-threatening dispute, you would want to have one on standby. In fact, hiring counsel at the onset of your business is one of the wisest decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. A lawyer can ensure that everything — from your business structure to your employee contracts — are legally sound. In case allegations are raised and escalated, you can rest assured that your contract and other legal documentation and practices will hold up well in court.
A lawyer will also help you create resolution policies that are effective and compliant with the labor law of your country and specific state. This increases your chances of protecting your company should you end up in court. If you don’t have a lawyer now, then it’s never too late to get one and have him or her assess the legal soundness of your business model, practices, and contracts.
Disputes are normal. Your employees shouldn’t feel scared to raise their concerns to the appropriate authorities in your company should they have any. With policies in place and a legal counsel on your side, you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you’re equipped to handle the next dispute that comes your way.