What options are available to achieve peace in the workplace? How can employers become more effective at resolving and minimizing conflict? How do employers, unions and employees work together to create healthier workplaces? In what way does a punitive approach differ from other approaches, such as a restorative approach? What is meant by “restorative practices” and how is this concept used to build “social capital” and achieve “social discipline” in the workplace? What is the difference between evaluative, facilitative and transformative mediation? Is voluntariness fundamental to the use of alternative processes? What happens to the duty of fairness, good faith and reasonableness when using alternative measures?
- Understanding conflict in Canadian workplaces: What are the most common types of conflicts in Canadian workplaces? What particular considerations should be taken into account when individuals in conflict in the workplace have problems involving anger management, various mental illnesses, etc.? How effective are managers at resolving conflict? Do the solutions lie solely with managers and employers, or does everyone have a responsibility to work towards resolution (as in dealing with duty to accommodate issues)? What different factors come into play when dealing with conflict between an employee and supervisor, as opposed to conflict between two employees? What is required of employers in responding to complaints? What role does the union play and what role should it play, especially when two bargaining unit members are in conflict?
- Traditional models and legal remedies: What are the options the law makes available in the event of workplace conflict? (e.g. Bill 168/internal processes, health and safety orders, human rights complaints, actions for wrongful/constructive dismissal?) What objectives should shape the decision to impose sanctions and the level of sanctions: rehabilitation, punishment, deterrence and/or correction? How do concepts of justice from criminal law influence how misconduct and conflict are handled in the workplace? What does restorative justice offer? What remedy exists when an employer fails to investigate and/or respond adequately to an employee’s complaint about workplace behaviour? With the increased recognition of psychological harm and bullying in the workplace and the impact of stress on employees’ health and well-being, have adjudicators changed their approach to remedies for certain types of workplace misconduct? Compared with counselling or alternative dispute resolution, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using industrial discipline to respond to workplace conflict? What is the most appropriate tribunal to deal with employee conflict?
- Alternative models and non-legal tools: How do alternative models and non-legal tools fit with traditional models and legal remedies? Are they mutually exclusive? How does transformative mediation differ from facilitative and evaluative mediation, and what is the best option for resolving relationship conflict? Is it more effective to mediate relationship-based issues before they end up at arbitration (at which point the parties have staked out positions)? Or is mediation-arbitration effective? Why or why not? What is the value of an apology, and can a genuine apology really resolve a conflict? What are the benefits and concerns regarding restorative justice practices? What is a restorative “circle” and how is this process being used in workplaces both proactively and in response to conflict? What if employees do not want to participate? How should “voluntariness” and “power imbalance” be addressed when using alternative models?
- Preventative approaches: How can employers and unions work together to recognize and prevent the most common sources of workplace conflict? How can company mission statements and policies help to create a desirable workplace culture? How does one create good internal complaints processes? How should policies set out clear expectations for acceptable conduct and processes to follow when problems arise? Should protections be crafted for “whistleblowers”? If protections are necessary, what should those protections be?