The best way to reduce or avoid the time and resources needed for hiring is to focus on keeping the employees you already have. Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons, many of which you may not be able to influence. You can, however, influence your workplace environment with strong leadership and strategies to help increase employee satisfaction. These strategies are a win-win for your employees and your bottom-line. You will not only reduce the effort and resources you need to invest in the hiring process, you will also be supporting the development of motivated, productive employees that will help your business grow.

This section will provide tools, tips and guides to help you focus on employee retention. This includes information on creating inclusive and diverse workplaces, managing different generations, engaging employees, developing and training staff, planning for succession and dealing with workplace conflict. This section will help you find win- win solutions for your business.

 

In This Section

 

 

Points to Consider

Now that you have found the right workers for your business it is up to you to devise a plan to keep them. Turnover can be very costly to a small to medium sized business.

Keeping workers doesn't just happen. It requires a planned approach to finding out what is important to the people who are working for you. In order to devise a good plan you need to consider these important points.

 

  • Know why some employees came to work for you and why others didn't.
  • Determine things you can build upon.
  • Identify what needs improvement.

 

  • Know why employees are staying with your company.
  • Use formal and informal conversation to find out what is working right.
  • Respond with action or an explanation as to why things cannot be changed.

 

  • Know why employees are leaving.
  • Keep records and look for patterns.

 

  • Anticipate any changes in the workplace that might cause employees to leave.
  • Consider the effects mergers, restructuring, changes in technology or change in location might have on workers.
  • Take steps to minimize the effect on workers.
  • Determine if personal issues might be causing employees to leave, for example, negative interaction with a supervisor, poor performance review, friends leaving, etc.

 

  • Know what options you have.
  • Consider a variety of ways to keep employees.
  • Consult with employees for suggestions and insights.
  • Consult with other businesses or employer organizations as to what is working for them.

 

  • Collect information that will help you analyze the results of your strategies.
  • Evaluate if your strategies are working to keep employees.
  • Set timelines and goals.

 

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Retention Checklist

It costs money when employees leave a company so any investment you can make to reduce the turnover of workers is a good investment.

Employees stay with a company for a whole host of reasons. Use the following checklist to help you think about new ways to make your workplace even more attractive for workers.

 

Employee ownership, decision-making and flexibility

  • Share the vision, mission and strategies of the business with employees.
  • Include employees in decision-making.
  • Allow employees to have independence and control over work.

A motivating, supportive and trusting environment

  • Ensure employees have a clear job expectations
  • Ensure that employees are supported to be productive at work.
  • Encourage teamwork among employees.
  • Recognize and reward employee contribution.


A healthy, safe and comfortable workplace

  • Provide a safe, healthy workplace.
  • Provide people-friendly facilities.
  • Provide a clean, comfortable environment.


Work and personal life in balance

  • Allow flexible hours and vacations.
  • Consider alternative working arrangements (eg. part -time, modified work weeks).
  • Allow employees some discretion over timing of overtime.


Regular and open communication

  • Continually share information and knowledge with all employees.
  • Consider regular employee meetings or update employees on a frequent basis.
  • Provide regular feedback to employees and managers.

 

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Engaging Employees

Communication is the key to keeping employees engaged and motivated in the workplace. By keeping the lines of communication open and well established you prevent much of the negativity or unproductive behaviour often associated with disengaged employees.

 

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The Benefits

The benefits of engaged employees are:

  • employees are more committed to the organization
  • work is more productive
  • company is more profitable
  • company is better able to provide superior customer service
  • workplace is a more safety conscious environment
  • actions of employees are more likely to encourage other employees to want to do great work
  • company becomes more attractive as a workplace

 

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Strategies

The following tips will provide you with some strategies to help keep your employees engaged in the workplace:

  • Keep managers and supervisors well informed.
  • Encourage employees to approach managers and supervisors with ideas, concerns and questions.
  • Let employees know what is happening in the company by including them in strategic planning and key decisions.
  • Use staff memos in strategic places such as in with pay cheques.
  • Place bulletin boards in lunch rooms.
  • Encourage staff to use employee suggestion boxes that can be anonymous, are regularly checked and responded to in a positive way.
  • Use employee surveys to find out what staff think and create actions based on the results.
  • Hold regular staff meetings with opportunity for employees to be heard.
  • Hold quick meetings to communicate new developments and address issues or concerns as they arise within a work unit.
  • Have clear job description for each employee to ensure there is a clear understanding of the job requirements. The downloadable job description template is a good starting point for writing the Job Description
  • Be sure to provide regular feedback about job performance - both jobs well done and areas for improvement. You may want to use a performance evaluation form. A Sample Employee Performance Review is provided in this Toolkit. Use this form, or search the web for other examples, to help you customize a performance review form for your organization.
  • Take time to show employees that their contributions have not gone unnoticed and that you appreciate their efforts.
  • Plan staff social events that foster relationship building amongst staff and management.
  • Encourage and support staff participation in community events.
  • Avoid creating and enforcing unnecessary rules.
  • Create processes that avoid creating conflict amongst employees and unnecessary competition.
  • Look for ways to support the need to have a balanced work/life schedule.

 

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Different Generations

With more people working longer there are four generations in the workforce. They include: the Traditionalist Generation (1922-1945), the baby boomers (1946-1964), generation X (1965 -1980) and generation Y (1981 – onward). Different generations of workers have different attitudes towards how and why they work. By understanding some of the differences affecting the workplace you will be better able to meet the communication and engagement needs of each generation. See our table for communication do's and don'ts for different generations below.

 

GENERATION DO

DON'T

Traditionalist Generation Show Respect
Creat and show goals
Use good grammar
Create organizational plans
Use profanity and slang
Use emotional language
Be disorganized
Show disrespect
Baby Boomer Establish Communication
Recognize achievements
Create strong company values
Provide development opportunities
Be politically incorrect
Be quick or unfriendly
Show little interest
Create power plays
Generation X Respect their time
Be efficient and straightforward
Use results based language
Lead with bottom lines
Use time inefficiently
Use corporate speak
Create company policies
Talk down to them
Generation Y Be positive
Include peers in collaboration
Show respect for achievements
Use technology where possible
Be cynical or sarcastic
Be condescending
Be unfair
Show favoritism

 

* Source: Building Better Workplaces

 

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Create a Preferred Workplace

As an employer much of your time is spent trying to find the right employees and then trying to find ways to keep those employees from leaving. Although many small to medium sized business owners struggle with providing pay that is competitive with larger employers, according to research, money is not the main reason employees stay with an employer. Sometimes employees seek out other work opportunities because they are bored or not challenged in their jobs and /or they feel unappreciated by their employer.

There are many things that can be done to improve the work environment to motivate your employees to stay and perform to their top of their capabilities. This section provides some helpful tips on to make your workplace more attractive to job seekers and to your employees.

 

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Creative Worksite Practices

Here are some creative workplace practices that businesses use to keep employees. Consider if any of them would work for you.

Time (see more below)

  • Flexible hours
  • Extra vacation days
  • Flexible vacation time
  • Paid days off
  • Time off to volunteer in the community
  • Family days
  • Compressed time- working extra time each day to have one day off a month, for example

Monetary

  • Gift certificates/cards
  • Scholarships for children of employees
  • Tuition reimbursements
  • Personal computer loans
  • Access to software downloads for home computer use Corporate discounts
     

Personal

  • Counseling services
  • Financial planning services
  • Wellness subsidies for weight loss, smoking cessation, etc.
  • Childcare assistance
  • Eldercare assistance
     

Work Environment

  • Casual dress days
  • Staff functions such as barbeques, parties and social events
  • Birthday celebrations
  • Free or subsidized parking
  • Free coffee, tea or snacks
  • Fun office environment
  • Ability to work from home
  • Transportation arrangements

Consult with your employees and ask them what they value and how you might implement their suggestions. Realize that although there may be initial upfront costs, the costs that you save in having less staff turnover may be worth it.

 

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Helpful Tips

This section will provide you with some helpful tips on how can you make your workplace more attractive to those employees you wish to keep.

  1. Be clear on what your company does, its priorities and what it stands for to help keep employees focused during their daily work routines.
  2. Provide new employees with a proper orientation to the company.
  3. Create a positive work environment and become known for it.
  4. Be sure that your company's priorities and environment appeals to workers of all ages. Information on
  5. managing different generations is provided in the Create an Inclusive Workplace pages which follow.
  6. Be open to employees with different values, styles of dress and physical appearances.
  7. Build a more diverse workplace by broadening your candidate pool to include people from underrepresented
  8. groups such as immigrants, First Nations people, African Canadians, older workers, people with disabilities, etc. Information on how building a diverse workplace can be found in this toolkit under Finding Workers/Attracting Diverse Workers
  9. Ensure safe working conditions. Information on employers' Health and Safety obligations can be found in the Links to Employment Laws (../links/) pages of this toolkit
  10. Ensure each employee has a clear understanding of his or her job expectation.
  11. Invest in employees. Look at how you can support them in a career with your company as opposed to
  12. supporting them only in their current job. More information on employee training and development can be
  13. found in this toolkit under Training and Development (../develop_your_people/training.asp).
  14. Have workplace training options that provide unskilled workers with the opportunity to acquire the skills
  15. needed to learn from the ground up.
  16. Consider training to help address challenges and sensitivities associated with having a workplace made up
  17. of various ethnicities and cultures. Information on managing a diverse workplace can be found in the
  18. Managing a Diverse Workplace (../diverse_workplace/) section in this toolkit.
  19. Provide employees with the tools required to get the job done.
  20. Leave the option of returning open to employees who leave on good terms.
  21. Start a recognition program that is low cost and low maintenance.
  22. Vary job tasks for those workers who like changes and challenges.
  23. Promote staff from within the company.
  24. Use wages, benefits and training creatively to meet the needs of individual employees.
  25. Communicate company policies and expectations from the top down, ensuring that at every level
  26. supervisors and managers are doing what needs to be done to create an attractive workplace.
  27. Listen to and respect your employees.

 

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Flexible Work Options

Some flexible work options that may help you meet the needs of individual employees:

FLEXIBLE WORK OPTION DESCRIPTION
Flexible time

Flexible start and end times

Works well for employees not on front lines or those with independent work routines

Compressed work week

Longer days and shorter work week, e.g. four 10-hour days rather than five 8-hour days

Attractive to young people as salary remains consistent with more time off work

Part-time

Various forms, e.g. shorter week, shorter days, set number of days per month, etc.

Particularly attractive to working parents and mature workers

Job sharing

Two part-time employees share responsibility for one full-time salaried position.

Appeals to team-oriented people who want a part time schedule

Contract work

Worker is engaged on an as-needed basis

Retired workers and committed seasonal workers tend to enjoy the flexibility of contract work

Leave of absence

Worker takes paid or unpaid leave with the guarantee their job will be held for him or her

Leaves have wide appeal in various forms, e.g. travel, sabbatical, semiretirement, etc.

Phased retirement

Any of the above options depending on the interests of the individual

Applies to those nearing retirement as well as those who have retired but choose to continue working

Work at home

Any of the above options depending on the interests of the individual

Applies to those nearing retirement as well as those who have retired but choose to continue working

 

 

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Create an Inclusive Workplace

Being included and feeling like you're important to a workplace is important to most employees. However each employee has their own unique work preferences and personal goals. A savvy manager recognizes this and builds a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive to all employees.

Building a workplace where differences in employees are valued and respected means being flexible, where possible, to the needs of individuals rather than applying one policy for all staff. It means linking employee goals and ambitions to the goals and future plans of the business and making sure your employees know how they fit into the big picture for the company, both now and in the future.

Employers who pay attention to those needs and invest some time and energy in creating inclusive workplaces spend less time, effort and money filling vacancies caused by staff leaving.

The following sections illustrate flexible work options for meeting the needs of individual employees and more tips on the ways you, as a business owner, can help create an inclusive workplace.

 

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Tips to Help Create an Inclusive Workplace

Here are some of the ways you, as a business owner, can help create an inclusive workplace:

  • Get to know your employees on an individual basis to determine each person's strengths, interests, priorities, challenges and commitment to the business.
  • Acknowledge staff when they are performing well.
  • Adapt flexibility in work arrangements to the needs of individuals rather than applying one policy for all staff.
  • Link employee goals and ambitions to the goals and future plans of the business. Make sure your employees know how they fit into the big picture for the company, both now and in the future.
  • Use language that is respectful and welcoming of all ages, gender, ethnicity, personal priorities and experiences. All internal and external communications such as newsletters, memos, job ads and websites should follow this guideline.
  • Make sure that work is shared fairly, and that all staff have opportunities to develop their skills, without making judgment or assumptions about personal circumstances or priorities.
  • Acknowledge and accommodate employees with diverse backgrounds and priorities.
  • Different generations of workers have different attitudes towards how and why they work. By understanding some of the differences you will be better able to meet the needs of each generation.
  • Provide both positive and constructive feedback to employees on their work as soon as possible. Praise publicly, but if you correct or reprimand, make sure you do that in private.
  • Be accessible and open to communicate. Maintain an open-door policy.
  • Examine the reason(s) why people are leaving the organization. Keep track of any trends and make an effort to address any issues within your control.

 

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Different Generations

It is important to understand how the workplace has changed. Consider the differences between the 'old workplace' and the 'new workplace'.

Workplace differences include:

OLD WORKPLACE NEW WORKPLACE
Structured set up Flexible set up
Stable Changeable
Financial incentives Variety of incentives
Work for others Self-employment
Large Corporations Small businesses or units
Hierarchical Participatory
Education is complete Life-long learning
Focus on product Focus on customer service
Error is tolerated total quality management control
Longer-term employment More frequent employment changes
Status quo, business as usual Emphasis on productivity and innovation

 

* Source: Building Better Workplaces

By understanding these changes you will be better able to meet the needs of each generation.

 

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Generational Traits

With more people working longer there are four generations in the workforce. They include: the silent generation (1922-1945), the baby boomers (1946-1964), generation X (1965 -1980) and generation Y (1981 – onward). Each generation has its own values, work style and management style.

 

Generation Traits in the Workplace

Silent Generation Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y
This generation is hardworking, trusting, optimistic and very moral. This generation is optimistic and driven to succeed in a work environment. This generation is not very trusting, but very adaptable to change. Has a good idea of work and life balance. This generation is hard working and adaptable to change. Optimistic about the future and open to ideas.

 

Generation Values in the Workplace

Silent Generation Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y
Dedication Optimism Diversity Civic Duty
Hard Work Team Focus World Thought Confidence
Respect Health Balance Optimism
Conformity Personal Growth Fun Social Ability
Duty Work Self-reliance Morality
Delated Gratification Involvement Technologically Literate Achievement

 

 

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Tips to Guide You in Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

  • Create an awareness of the different attitudes towards work and flexible employment options;
  • Train leaders and managers on generational/cultural differences;
  • Implement a variety of family friendly programs or policies such as child care, eldercare services and parental leave;
  • Consider offering career development workshops that target the unique needs of each generation;
  • Give prompt and useful feedback, letting each employee know what you see as his or her individual strengths and opportunities for growth;
  • Encourage formal and informal mentoring; and
  • Communicate often and in as many different ways as possible.

 

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Flexible Work Options

 

FLEXIBLE WORK OPTION DESCRIPTION
Flexible time

Flexible start and end times

Works well for employees not on front lines or those with independent work routines

Compressed work week

Longer days and shorter work week, e.g. four 10-hour days rather than five 8-hour days

Attractive to young people as salary remains consistent with more time off work

Part-time

Various forms, e.g. shorter week, shorter days, set number of days per month, etc.

Particularly attractive to working parents and mature workers

Job sharing

Two part-time employees share responsibility for one full-time salaried position.

Appeals to team-oriented people who want a part time schedule

Contract work

Worker is engaged on an as-needed basis

Retired workers and committed seasonal workers tend to enjoy the flexibility of contract work

Leave of absence

Worker takes paid or unpaid leave with the guarantee their job will be held for him or her

Leaves have wide appeal in various forms, e.g. travel, sabbatical, semiretirement, etc.

Phased retirement

Any of the above options depending on the interests of the individual

Applies to those nearing retirement as well as those who have retired but choose to continue working

Work at home

Any of the above options depending on the interests of the individual

Applies to those nearing retirement as well as those who have retired but choose to continue working

 

 

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Respectful Workplace

What is a respectful workplace? It is a workplace where:

  • all employees feel valued;
  • communication is polite and considerate;
  • people are treated as they wish to be treated;
  • conflict is dealt with in a positive and respectful way; disrespectful behaviour and harassment are addressed.

Some of the ways employers can build a respectful workplace are:

Training

  • regularly provide training on respectful workplaces to all workers and management.
  • provide new employees with an orientation and review their rights, responsibilities and obligations towards other employees.


Policies & Practices

  • review policies and practices to make sure they encourage respect.
  • involve employees in the development of respectful workplace polices.
  • ensure that employees know what the policy is and have it posted in places where employees gather; for example the break room or lunch room.


Encourage Responsibility

  • hold supervisors, managers and employees responsible for their behaviour.
  • make sure that reporting relationships are clear and that each person has only one supervisor.
  • look into all complaints of disrespect and harassment.
  • consider respectful behaviour in performance reviews.

 

* Source: Modified from Building Better Workplaces

 

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Employee Development

 

Performance Feedback

Even if your organization doesn't have a document performance appraisal system, the process is probably occurring informally. We all judge the quality of others' work regardless of whether those judgements are expressed or recorded.

Having a performance appraisal process can be very helpful tool for both setting and recognizing the achievement of goals and standards and for helping individuals in planning their own development. A good performance appraisal system promotes productivity by:

  • ensuring employees understand performance expectations
  • recognizing good performance
  • providing constructive feedback for improved performance
  • Identifying areas for development and training to help individuals succeed in their jobs and advance in their careers

Performance appraisals that genuinely encourage employee growth and development demonstrate that an organization is doing its share to help individuals advance.

Also key to a good performance appraisal system is integrating personal goals with organizational goals. People feel good about themselves and their employer when they do things that stretch their abilities and when they get recognition for those achievements.

A Sample Employee Performance Review is provided in this Toolkit. Use this form, or search the web for other examples, to help you customize a performance review form for your organization.

 

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Training and Development

Helping employees grow and develop is a key factor in keeping and motivating employees. In fact, it is one of the most important factors. Building the skills and knowledge of workers and developing the management capacity of managers makes businesses more productive and better able to adapt to changes in the environment. Training and development makes sense any way you look at it.

Sending staff to off-site training classes and seminars is one way to train and develop your employees but it is not the only way. There are many other innovative and effective ways, right in the workplace and during working hours.

An entire section this toolkit is dedicated to the topic of Training and Development. In this section you will find tools, tips and guides to help determine the training needs for your business and understand the various training and development options that exist.

Information on available financial supports for hiring and training employees is also provided.

 

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Succession Planning

Many small business owners are so busy with the day to day operation of their business that not much thought is given to planning for the future of their business. However, it is inevitable that key employees will need to be replaced from time to time. It is also inevitable that you, the owner, will leave the business at some point. In either case, having a plan in place will save you money and headaches and will provide a better return on your investment.

For key employees, it is important to identify individuals capable of filling those positions in your business and put a process in place to ensure they are trained and ready to step in when needed. By planning for the time when you leave the business, either to retire or to pursue other interests, you will give yourself the opportunity to do that with the least amount of stress and the best return for your investment in the business over the years.

Business succession planning generally follows one of two paths:

  • Keeping the business within the owner's family
  • Selling the business to other owners, key employees or other interested parties

 

Keeping the Business within the Family

The positives of keeping the business within the family may include:

  • Ability to maintain the family name in the business
  • Inside knowledge of the family business
  • Ability to plan long term for training and developing the family member(s)

The negatives of keeping the business within the family may include:

  • In-fighting amongst family members over who controls the business
  • Family members may not want to take on the responsibilities of operating the business
  • Family members may not have the qualifications or the ability to run the family business
     

Selling the Business

The positives of selling the business may include:

  • Operation of the business as per usual
  • Maybe a greater financial return for you

The negatives of selling the business may include:

  • Change in the way the business is operated
  • Possible change in the reputation you have built for the company
  • Bidding competitions or company buy-outs

Some business owners have chosen to groom or mentor a key employee to take over the ownership of the company. The current business owner can then invest some of the capital for the new upcoming owner/trainee to buy out the current owner but still maintain an equity position in the company for an appropriate time period.

 

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Some Succession Planning Do's and Don'ts

 

DO

  • Start planning now.
  • Communicate openly to all your family members about your plans.
  • Write down what you want to happen.
  • Address the potential issues such as possible business failure or equal division of the business early on in your plan.
  • Actively develop the skills, abilities and knowledge of the next generation.
  • Prepare a legal will early.
  • Develop a general plan for transfer of assets.
  • Consult with a lawyer and an accountant to solidify your plan.

 

DON'T

  • Put off discussing succession.
  • Be afraid to ask questions and listen to the answers.
  • Hold on to control of all the aspects of the business.
  • Define your life around the business.
  • Rely on the advice of one professional advisor.

There is no foolproof method of succession planning. Your approach must be customized to meet your specific needs. Start planning early, think of your business as an asset and get professional as well as legal help to assist with the transition process.

 

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Dealing with Conflict

All workplaces have conflict, either between workers or between a worker and a supervisor. When conflict arises, it needs to be dealt with fairly and effectively as soon as possible. Unresolved conflict reduces the productivity and satisfaction of workers and costs the employer both time and money.

The key to dealing with conflict is to address the issue and work to provide solutions before it affects the entire group or the business. If your employees are unionized, consult your collective agreement. It likely sets out a process for dealing with disputes and if so, that process takes precedence over any suggestions contained in this document.

 

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Managing Workplace Conflict

In managing workplace conflict there are several steps you should follow:

  • Do not avoid the conflict. Conflict does not go away by itself. Most people need assistance in working through their differences so that they can work together.
  • Get to the root of the problem; the real issue. Often there may be multiple issues as a result of one root problem.
  • Speak to the employees who are having the conflict together in a private setting. Talking to them individually may add to the conflict.
  • Remain neutral and do not take sides. Give each person a chance to talk about the issue without being interrupted. Do not permit personal attacks.
  • Help create options to resolve the conflict. Realize that behaviours can change but personalities cannot.
  • Have the employees agree on an action(s) that will help resolve the issue. Indicate your commitment to support them with this plan of action.
  • Agree on timelines for the actions that result in respectful behaviour and set a follow up time to meet with the employees to determine if agreements have been met.
  • If the conflict continues, meet to determine what went wrong. As an employer you may need to consider some workplace changes or help from a third party to resolve the issues.

Although conflict in a workplace is commonly between employees or between an employer and a supervisor or manager, sometimes everyone in the company is affected. Helping to create a respectful workplace free from offensive behaviour is one way the employer can reduce workplace conflicts.

  • Consult the yellow pages in your telephone directory, or consult your business organization, for referrals to private providers of conflict resolution services.

 

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Tools