Restoring the Workplace After an Investigation or Review

Published on: July 14, 2021

We asked the instructor of our upcoming Workplace Restoration course to set out why understanding the fundamental components of a workplace restoration process are key to performing a successful workplace restoration. Here’s what he wrote:

On July 6, 2021, Mary Simon was named as Canada’s 30th Governor-General – the first Indigenous person to hold this title. Simon’s appointment comes on the heels of the former Governor-General Julie Payette’s unceremonious resignation after an independent review described the culture of her office as “toxic” and “hostile.”

Too often, “toxic” work environments leads to an irreparable disruption to the workplace. Whether it’s poor interpersonal dynamics or an incident of misconduct, people feel genuinely hurt, angry, and traumatized by what has happened. When Simon is officially installed in the role, she will face a team of staff who may be fearful, anxious and have difficulty in adjusting to a new boss. How will she both repair the harm that has occurred and build trust with this team?

Workplace restoration is an ideal way to address this problem. In broad strokes, it is a process where people who have experienced conflict or misconduct in a work environment come together, talk openly about their feelings, and resolve to move forward without resentment and in hopes of fostering a better workplace culture.

But how do you get people to voluntarily participate in a raw, candid, and emotional conversation like this? How do you ensure that people don’t reignite the very same dynamics that caused problems in the first place?

Getting participants in a position where they would be willing to participate in a workplace restoration process – without forcing them to – is the primary challenge. It requires learning how each individual feels about their workplace culture, their openness to understanding others’ perspectives, and their willingness to address the problem.

Every situation is different; there is no single workplace restoration practice that will work. While a workplace restoration facilitator must know the fundamentals of restorative procedures, equally important is a facilitator’s willingness to be flexible and creative to create a restorative process that caters to the unique dynamics of a workplace. A facilitator who tries to impose an overly pre-planned approach may face resistance or leave participants feeling dissatisfied with the restoration. Employees are more willing to participate in a restorative practice that will address the conflict in their workplace when responsive to their needs.

The Workplace Restoration course is scenario-based. It provides participants with the tools they need to enhance their skills in restorative practices and assess the type and nature of the restorative practice that makes sense in a given scenario. Participants will leave the course with an understanding of how to conduct workplace restorations in a way that is tailored to the workplace conflict at issue.