Restorative practice in the workplace

When conflict happens in the workplace or people experience inappropriate behaviour at work, relationships are broken and teams suffer.

Restorative practice can be used within the workplace both to prevent this happening in the first place and to address it when it does, enabling teams and individuals to work well together.

Where situations have already arisen – for example in cases of disrespectful behaviour, emotional and verbal abuse, intimidation or bullying – restorative practice can be an effective way to resolve them.

It involves:

  • bringing together all those affected by conflict
  • providing a safe environment for the expression of emotion
  • allowing participants to come to a shared understanding
  • identifying creative ways to deal with conflict
  • providing opportunities to rebuild damaged relationships and strengthen teams

Restorative approaches can also be used proactively and in a preventative way within the workplace to build strong, positive relationships. Staff meetings, for example, can be restorative, focused on building relationships and based around a foundation of mutual respect.

While processes such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and workplace mediation generally have a fairly narrow focus on a particular conflict and its resolution, restorative practice has a wider focus and aims to build better relationships and a stronger community. This allows everyone involved to find a positive way forward.

An organisation that fully embraces restorative practices has the potential to create a safer, happier and more effective workplace for everyone.