The start of a new year is a great time to do away with the conflicts of the past, to focus on positivity, and to improve the workplace for the benefit of everyone.
Here’s how a little positive psychology and the use of workplace mediation to deal with any lingering disharmony can help to create a happy and healthy work environment for 2016.
The power of positivity
Positive psychology has gained momentum as a movement, especially in workplaces. Fundamentally, it seeks to get the best out of people in all aspects of their lives. In the workplace, positive psychology aims to improve morale, wellbeing and work performance by supporting employees, encouraging innovative thought and fostering effective teamwork.
It can be implemented in a number of ways, including by:
- Ensuring workers are appreciated and thanked for their efforts.
- Organising mentoring or coaching of less experienced staff by more senior employees, who can guide and assist them with career development.
- Encouraging workers to leave the workplace at lunchtimes for a change of scenery. If workers must eat in a lunch room, consider brightening it with new paint, pictures, new furniture, and the addition of appliances and/or vending machines.
- Encouraging employees to think creatively about ways to improve the business, and to develop these ideas. This shows staff that they are valued and their ideas are important. It also allows them to play to their strengths in taking on “pet” projects.
Possibly the most outstanding example of this last point is Google. Known for its flexible and creative employment practices, Google allows employees to spend up to 20% of their time on projects of personal interest – also known as “innovation time”. Google Maps and Gmail are both products of innovation time, and are now key aspects of Google’s business.
Mediation and the workplace
Minimising workplace conflict is an important part of positive psychology. A key way to minimise workplace conflict, especially when productivity or employee wellbeing is threatened, is to use mediation.
Workplace mediation can be very effective in resolving disputes if both parties are willing to talk about their issues. It can also happen informally if the matter has not escalated to an application or complaint being lodged under the Fair Work Act.
In mediation, both parties meet with an impartial independent third party to discuss the issues and to try and achieve a resolution.
Mediation is most effectively employed soon after a conflict arises. The longer a conflict continues, the more entrenched the parties can become, the less open to compromise they will be, and the greater the chance that other staff have become involved and taken sides. This can seriously undermine morale and productivity.
Using mediation before a conflict escalates can have many positive benefits, including:
- Giving staff a say in how they can better work together.
- Giving staff a sense of responsibility and involvement in reaching a resolution.
- Providing a starting point for defining professional conduct and appropriate interactions.
- Discussing what support structures are needed and implementing those structures.
- Developing systems for avoiding and handling future conflicts.
Both positive psychology and the use of mediation can play a key role in reducing conflict, and fostering a productive workplace where morale is high. Why not consider implementing some of these strategies, and start the year off on a positive note?
WISE Workplace engages experienced mediators and psychologists to work with clients to bring about positive outcomes for teams. Call us on 1300 685 580 for more information, or visit www.wiseworkplace.com.au.