Handling Grievances: I have two employees who refuse to work together, what should I do?

Assuming that neither employee has raised a formal grievance, you should try to resolve the issue informally.

Assuming that neither employee has raised a formal grievance, you should try to resolve the issue informally. The first step will be to sit down with each employee and listen to their concerns. You should not side with either employee at this stage. Having established these concerns you may be in a position to encourage both employees to sit down together, with you present, to openly discuss the issues they have. In many cases this will be enough to clear the air and allow their working relationship to resume, in which case you should keep the situation under review, which may include initially periodic meetings with both employees.

If the issues are not easily resolved or you need to undertake further investigation, you should do this informally and take time to gather relevant information. With this information you may be able to present a logical and productive argument to the employees involved of how they can avoid future disputes with each other.

It may be that your investigations warrant one or both of the employees being invited to a disciplinary meeting because of their conduct. Again you should not favour one employee without good reason. There must be consistency in treatment and if both employees are found to be at fault they should both be dealt with appropriately.

Alternatively you may conclude from your informal investigations that no formal action is needed and that the employees must work together to resolve their differences. If this is the case you should make them aware of the formal grievance procedure, should they wish to progress the matter further. If you do receive a formal grievance then you need to follow your grievance procedure. If both employees raise grievances ensure that you follow a consistent approach, investigate both grievances fully and do not form any preset ideas of who is a fault.

If you feel that it would be helpful to vary the employees’ working hours to avoid the employees having to work together then be very careful. This should only be done with the agreement of the parties and should not impact more adversely on one employee than the other.

If a situation has reached an impasse, you may consider using a trained mediator (either an internal or external one) to liaise between the two employees (with their agreement) to find a way forward for them to work together. Some grievance procedures have this as an option to do so check to see if this is the case in your own procedure.

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