Workplace violence : moving toward restorative practices as an alternative to traditional progressive discipline at Canada Post Calgary
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SubjectBullying; Canada Post; Progressive Discipline; Restorative; Restorative Justice; Workplace Violence
Canada Post Corporation (CPC) has a longstanding history of using progressive discipline to influence behaviour in a heavily unionized environment. In this paper, however, I question the effectiveness of limiting ourselves to progressive discipline to address incidents of workplace violence between two or more employees. Recent initiatives have challenged frontline supervisors to use discipline as a last resort. In search of an alternative to progressive discipline I looked to answer the question, "How can CPC Calgary move toward a restorative approach to workplace violence?" To help answer this question I reviewed literature on restorative justice, workplace violence, behaviour change, and learning organizations. Then, using the action research methodology, Canada Post employees were engaged in a survey, interviews, and a focus group. My research revealed that Canada Post supervisors believe strongly in zero tolerance for violence in the workplace. The literature, however, warned that zero tolerance may come at the price of reduced confidence in one's ability to navigate workplace violence and of over-sensitivity to low intensity incidents. This is a price that Canada Post may currently be paying. In fact my research showed that Supervisors often do not feel they have the skillset to navigate workplace violence without making a mistake. This led to the question, "Is it safe to be accountable at Canada Post?" In a place of safety Canada Post employees may be more willing to admit, "I made a mistake and I am sorry." Safety is also needed in order for CPC supervisors to be willing to explore alternative approaches such as restorative approaches. It is my hope that three recommendations can help move Canada Post forward. First I recommend a restorative behaviour change model to interrupt the cycle of uncivil or bullying behaviours. The model respects the principles of restorative justice and provides a structured alternative to progressive discipline. Next I recommend supervisor learning labs to foster strategy exploration, rapid learning, skills development, and confidence. Lastly I recommend the tiered development of subject matter experts to allow for timely support to increasingly complex incidents of workplace violence such as bullying.
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