TLS Enterprises has been providing human resource consulting services to businesses, government departments and community organizations for over 20 years. We design each program to meet the unique needs of every client.
An employer may request an investigation for a variety of reasons – because of workplace conflict that has gone unresolved, because a grievance has been filed or because a formal complaint of harassment or workplace violence has been made. Alternatively, a manager may recognize that there is a potential for harassment or violence in the workplace and, as a manager who is responsible for maintaining a respectful work environment, he or she may initiate an investigation as a pro-active measure. Investigations may involve situations where there are allegations or concerns about:
- Conflict between individuals
- Workplace Violence
- Abuse of authority
- Sexual or racial harassment
- Personal harassment
- Harassment or Workplace Violence under the Canada Labour Code (federal)
- Harassment based on other protected grounds under human rights legislation
- Personal harassment
TLS Associates will first review current policies and procedures to ensure that the investigation addresses existing organizational policies. In allegations of workplace violence, organizational policies and the relevant labour legislation would be the basis for the investigation.
An investigation usually involves two or more individuals – a complainant(s) and a respondent(s). The complainant(s) and respondent(s) will be interviewed, as well as relevant witnesses. Related documents are researched and reviewed. As a final step, the parties to a complaint may be re-interviewed to provide them with an opportunity to respond to any new information which have arisen during the investigation.
TLS Associates will analyze the information gathered, using a number of factors such as the preponderance of evidence, credibility of parties and witnesses, reasonable person and reasonable victim, etc. A conclusion will be reached based on the “balance of probabilities”.
A report is prepared outlining the facts, the analysis of the facts and the conclusions. In all cases, TLS ensures confidentiality and procedural fairness for the parties to a complaint. Under the Canada Labour Code, there will also be recommendations for a safer, healthier workplace.
What is Mediation? Mediation is a voluntary problem solving process. Mediation uses a neutral party to guide the parties involved in a conflict to a mutually acceptable resolution. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator cannot impose a settlement; a mediator helps the parties themselves to decide on solutions that will work for them.
The mediator acts as a guide for the process, helping the parties involved in a dispute to identify issues and explore possible basis for agreement. It is a co-operative, interest based approach to conflict resolution.
Mediation encourages the parties to focus on “interests” versus “positions”. An interest focuses on individuals’ values, needs, hopes and concerns. It involves understanding the underlying reasons for the conflict. A position, on the other hand, is a fixed determination of either or both parties which is often stated as a demand.
In mediation, the mediator will attempt to have the parties express their interests, to find where they have common ground and build towards greater understanding between the parties. From that understanding, mutually acceptable solutions can be examined and agreed to.
Mediation does not consider whether the complaint is founded or unfounded; it does not focus on fault. Mediation is often future oriented, looking at what can be done to resolve the conflict to enhance future working relationships.
Mediation usually results in a signed agreement by both parties which sets out the terms under which the conflict can be resolved.
- Voluntary – Parties to a dispute can choose to undertake a mediation process. They can also choose to withdraw at anytime, for any reason.
- Control – The parties have control over the decisions in a mediation process. The mediator assists the parties in crafting their own solutions, to meet their needs and interests.
- Informed – The parties are all fully informed about the process and what to expect. The process is intended to be transparent, rather than secretive.
- Future versus Past – Mediation focuses on the future and on what can be done to resolve the dispute. It does not focus on assigning blame.
- Confidential – Mediation is a confidential process. Any disclosures to the mediator cannot be disclosed without the permission of the party.
- Agreement – Mediation normally results in an agreement, after the parties have developed solutions. All parties must freely agree to the terms of the agreement.
Initiatives to prevent and deal with workplace violence have evolved over the last few years. There are new provisions in the Canada Labour Code (Bill C65) which apply to organizations under federal jurisdiction. Provinces also have adopted similar legislation.
Employers are now expected to promote the concept of violence free workplaces, recognizing potential issues and dealing with problems which arise.
Under the Canada Labour Code, the federal government, Crown Corporations and federally regulated industries are expected to develop provisions to prevent harassment and violence including:
- comprehensive prevention policies
- improved data collection
- respond to occurrences when they do happen through a resolution process that requires employers to communicate regularly with parties and provide multiple options for seeking resolution
- make available information respecting support services to employees.
TLS can help organizations develop policies and procedures to enhance a violence free workplace. TLS Associates have also investigated individual or group complaints related to workplace violence, which included a finding on the particular complaint, but also recommendations for prevention in the future.
Healthy and Respectful Workplace
TLS Associates have worked with a number of organizations to develop more productive workplaces.
This can involve:
- Developing a policy, communicated to all, on the expectations about working together
- Helping managers learn to deal with conflict and provide positive reinforcement to staff
- Identifying issues which are problematic and ways of making positive change
- Teaching all staff to take responsibility for resolving conflict and for making their workplace better
One of the components of a Healthy and Respectful Workplace can be a policy, communicated to all, setting out the goals, expectations and process for developing and maintaining a healthy work environment.
A Healthy and Respectful Workplace policy needs to be proactive; a passive, complaint based approach is no longer adequate.
Related existing Human Resources policies also need to be revisited and updated from time to time to reflect the principles of a healthy workplace. Ideally, they adopt a prevention approach, acknowledging that the goal is respect for all.
A Healthy and Respectful Workplace Policy should cover the following:
- Emphasize respect for all.
- State the principle that a healthy workplace is good for everyone.
- State the values of respect held by the organization and that all staff members are expected to take responsibility for maintaining a Healthy and Respectful Workplace.
- Give staff members a clear picture of what they need to do to maintain a Healthy and Respectful Workplace.
- Clearly define the areas covered by the applicable Human Rights Law.
- Consider adding additional grounds such as abuse of authority, personal harassment, or bullying.
- Cover the requirement of provincial or federal labour legislation to recognize and prevent workplace violence.
- Alert managers to the fact that, in accordance with the law, managers are responsible for maintaining a harassment free environment and preventing workplace violence.
- Give people options about where they can go to deal with inappropriate, harassing or violent behaviour.
- Allow for informal voluntary resolution (mediation) if the parties so choose.
- Clearly indicate the process to be followed in handling conflict or a complaint.
- Indicate that the organization does not tolerate disrespectful behaviour and misconduct could result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
The emphasis needs to be on prevention, and yet a complaint mechanism is required to let staff know that the organization takes breaches of the policy seriously and will act on complaints.
Managers must be proactive and understand their responsibility and that they are legally liable for maintaining a harassment free/violence free environment. This means that managers must deal with, not only complaints, but also any inappropriate actions that they see or are aware of.
Role modeling respectful behaviour is another important aspect of a manager’s responsibility. Staff members take their cues from their managers in terms of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Managers need to role model respectful behaviours and hold their immediate staff accountable if any individuals engage in disrespectful behaviour that is not in line with organizational objectives or the Healthy and Respectful Workplace Policy.
But staff members have a responsibility too. Employees at all levels can role model respectful behavior and have an impact on the workplace. Treating co-workers with respect, not participating in malicious teasing or put downs, handling conflict in a constructive way, and giving positive feedback to co-workers – all those actions can have a profound effect of work groups.
A Healthy and Respectful Workplace is a goal worth aiming for. It benefits everyone, and everyone needs to participate in creating and maintaining a Healthy and Respectful Workplace.
There are a number of possible reasons why an organization might wish to undertake an administrative review. They include:
- To review their compliance with the new requirements of the Canada Labour Code (Bill C65)
- To assess whether there is systemic racism, sexism, abuse of authority, etc. within the organization and to make recommendations for a more inclusive work environment
- To address ongoing conflict that prevents an organization from developing positive working relationships and operating effectively as possible
An Organizational Review is generally initiated by management and is not based on a specific complaint or a specific person, A manager may request a review in order to determine what the issues are and to seek recommendations for change for a more effective and respectful organization.
In an Organizational Review, several factors will be considered. One piece is interviewing staff from various occupations and levels to identify concerns. TLS Associates will review existing policies and procedures related to the issues that arise.
The process is designed specifically with the organization’s needs and issues in mind, and therefore the process may differ with each review. However, the goal is always to improve working relationships and procedures within the organization.
A final report will provide an overview of the organization, an examination of the issues which cause conflict or concern and recommendations for moving forward towards a respectful and equitable workplace.
TLS consultants work as a team with your staff. We know that the people in your organization have a great deal of knowledge and ability. We appreciate the input of staff and work with them to enhance skills and organizational effectiveness
TLS Enterprises emphasizes quality, effectiveness and innovation. We have Associates with a wide variety of skills, experience and cultural backgrounds. We will create a team of professionals with specialized skills to meet your needs.