Many of you probably know by now I’m a HUGE fan of working things out between individuals before getting a third party involved. But, when it comes to conflict in the workplace, when is it time to get Human Resources involved?

I’d love to provide you with a short-and-sweet answer. But, in truth, the answer is personal and subjective–and, it’s different in every case. Still, I’ve come up with a few ways to know it’s time to turn to your workplace HR department when you’re in the midst of a workplace conflict:

  1. You don’t feel safe talking it out with your co-worker/boss: “Safe” has lots of meanings, and here, I don’t just mean physically safe. I mean emotionally safe. If the other person is apt to verbally assault or emotionally abuse you, head right to HR and let them know what’s going on. Under no circumstances should you be subject to any kind of assault or abuse, so if you suspect the other person might turn on you when you try to resolve your conflict, skip the one-on-one confrontation, and get a third party involved.
  2. You fear retribution: If you feel that confronting the other person might lead to any sort of retribution (hostile work environment, monetary retribution, loss of promotion, etc.), don’t waste time trying to work out your conflict with the other person. Instead, go to HR and tell them your concerns if they ask you why you’re there.
  3. Previous attempts at resolving the issue haven’t worked: If you’ve tried over-and-over to resolve the same conflict directly with a co-worker or boss, and you haven’t seen real attempts at change, you’ve done what you can. Go to HR and let them know you’ve tried to resolve the conflict before contacting them. It’s a good idea to document all attempts at resolving the issue, so you can show HR you have exhausted every avenue before coming to them for relief.

I recently made a visit to Human Resources myself for a conflict at work, and it was scary. But, all of the above-mentioned conditions were met, and I felt like HR was my only option. They were kind and supportive, and I’m so glad I did it!


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