“I have 2 employees who work together within the same department of my firm. They have recently had a dispute over a non-work related issue and this has impacted on their productivity at work. What can I do as an employer to resolve this problem and restore their focus at work?”

There are various ways to deal with this situation even though the source of this issue arose outside of the workplace, I will look at 3 options that you could follow in similar circumstances.

1. Mediation – as a means of trying to resolve the issues. Meet with the employees informally individually to discuss the issues that they are having together. Explain that you have noticed that there is an issue between then and it is affecting your performance and provide examples. Advise that the issues should not be brought into work and they need to maintain professional working relationships with the business being their primary focus. Try to encourage them to engage in mediation with each other to resolve the issues. Often communication will resolve any outstanding differences. Moving forward if their performance is adversely affected then advise that it may become a disciplinary issue.

2. Disciplinary Hearing – If the employee’s performance is adversely affected and they are not carrying out their duties as required then you may wish to proceed with disciplinary action. Mediation can be tried in the first instance. Follow the normal process by investigating to ascertain if there is a case to answer and if so then formally invite the employee to a Disciplinary Hearing(complying with the usual rules) where he will be afforded the opportunity to state his case. During the disciplinary hearing put each allegation to the employee and allow them to respond. Ensure that the minutes are signed and liaise with the Advice Line regarding an appropriate sanction.

3. Organisational Adjustments – Could you consider moving one employee to another department to resolve the work issues? Before making this change you may want to consider some of the following questions, would this be the solution for all similar matters? Could it resolve the underlying issue? How would it affect the business? Consider the benefits for the organisation as it may increase the productivity? This may be more suitable if the dispute is between two key senior employees. This should only be considered if it is a viable option within your business and it would need to be handled in such a way as to ensure that the employee’s do not expect this decision to have been taken lightly.

There are other options that can be consider within this situation, for further advice on these or the options above please contact the advice line on 0844 892 2786.