The Restorative Difference
Challenging, real conversations happen in an environment of support – and the workplace becomes a safer, more engaged community.
Restorative Practice is used proactively, building a workplace culture for teams and individuals to work well together.
Restorative Practice is also used responsively, resolving conflict situations and in the process building improved relationships. An engaged workplace seeks to repair harm and to allow those involved in the conflict to find a constructive way forward.
When conflict occurs in the workplace, the restorative approach will:
- bring together those involved in the conflict to find a way forward
- allow all affected by the conflict to have a voice
- help participants come to a shared understanding
- provide a healthy alternative to negative gossip or avoidance of responsibility
- clarify necessary actions in the workplace culture to avoid similar conflicts
- nurture accountability, respect and help build trust
- help avoid the need for disciplinary action
- provide continuity of positive practices into the future
Restorative Practice: a background summary
Throughout its history, practitioners of Restorative Practice have realised that the principles employed in conflict resolution (personal ownership of a problem, personal ownership of the resolution) are most effective when engrained into an organisation as a part of normal practice, i.e., when there has been a permanent learning from the event. The ‘follow on’ is as important as resolving the presenting issue. This is particularly important in the workplace, where operational process is vital to success.
Restorative approaches are being increasingly adopted. The Nova Scotia Department of Social Services is moving in this direction. The UK postal unions handle grievances through restorative approaches.
Moving on from conflict
This experience has led to a further realization that Restorative Practice offers a highly effective framework, or set of principles, for shaping all organizational practices involving interpersonal relationships.
While Restorative Practice has its origins as a response to conflict, it is now viewed as providing a sound framework for all workplace situations, from staff hiring, to policies on conducting staff meetings, to performance appraisal, to inter-department workflow.
It has long been recognised that the health of human relationships in an organization is a major contributor to measurable gains in operational efficiency and business success. The CSA Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (2013) highlights the importance of good day-to-day workplace relationships.
And the role of CWE
We at CWE are leading providers of services in this area. Our staff has been involved in the application of all aspects the practices described here.
In 2013 the Canadian Standards Association published a new national standard entitled Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. CWE has been recognised by the CSA as a valuable supporter of services in this area.
At CWE we promote workplace engagement, methods and practices for improving how we relate to one another, and how we connect to the work we do – the basis on which a healthier, more productive workplace can flourish.