Thanks to Michael F. Hughes, attorney with SmithAmundsen, LLC, who presented at our October luncheon for the Kane DuPage Human Resources Association.
Mr. Hughes spoke about “Effectively Managing Employee Conflicts and Complaints.” Using approaches and methods from mediation processes, he provided several excellent insights.
- “Clarify what the disagreement is. Obtain as much information as possible on each side’s point of view. Continue to ask questions until you are certain that you, and each side of the conflict, understand the issue.”
- “Establish a common goal for both parties. Find a commonality in both sides as a starting point for a shared outcome. That commonality can be as simple as ‘both sides want to end the conflict.'”
- After determining the barriers to the common goal, work with both/all parties to agree on “the best way to resolve the conflict.” This includes discussing the responsibility each party has in reaching and maintaining the solution.
Mr. Hughes also briefly addressed more accelerated conflicts in which there is a complaint of harassment. He recommended that every complaint is taken seriously, with specific steps followed for investigation and resolution. He also noted that complainants often ask that you do nothing unless the situation recurs, often fearing recrimination. Since a complaint has been voiced, it cannot be ignored. So he recommended saying that you must investigate; that you have a duty to protect employees against harassment; that you will keep information as confidential as possible; and that you will follow up so the complainant knows that this is being addressed and resolved.
Mr. Hughes also brought a hand-out on HB 8, new legislation related to pregnancy protections that impact all Illinois employers. HB 8 extends leave rights well beyond the scope of FMLA, both in terms of the length of possible unpaid leave and the size of employers to which this is applicable (FMLA applies to employers of 50 or more).
Thanks to Mr. Hughes, always an insightful and informative speaker for our HR luncheons! And thanks to El Puente restaurant for our hearty meal.
Be sure to check the Kane DuPage HR Association website for our upcoming professional events.
by Elyse Williamson