What can you do if conflict is making your workplace a misery?

Posted on: 16th January, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Longer hours and new roles are taking their toll on the Irish workforce, but coupled with constantly changing technology and job insecurity, many people are reaching breaking point. People are often made to feel they should be grateful to have a job, however, it is hard to appreciate having work if you’re involved in a conflict in your workplace.

If you are caught up in a dispute with a colleague or management, you are not alone.  All of the Government bodies dealing with work related issues have seen a huge increase in complaints over recent years. In these difficult times, when everyone is under greater pressure, minor issues can escalate into serious and damaging disputes if not resolved.

We spend an average of around 57 per cent of our lives at work so it’s important for our mental health and overall well-being that it’s a positive place to be. The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland has found that workplaces, which have good communications, respectful relations and healthy systems of work tend to get the best results in achieving a healthy and productive workforce. Whilst conflict can be an unavoidable and normal element of life, conflict that becomes destructive is one of the biggest avoidable costs in the workplace.

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. Under section 8 of the Act your employer is required to’prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk’.  Similarly, employees have a duty not to engage in improper behaviour, which would endanger the health, safety and welfare of themselves or the other employees. Employers should also have written grievance and disciplinary procedures which outline how issues will be dealt with when they arise. Whatever approach is used to handle workplace disputes, it needs to allow the people involved to resolve the issue and plan how they will engage in the future. (To find out more about employment rights visit www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment).

One of the options to address conflicts in the workplace is through mediation, which offers new possibilities by promoting understanding, building cohesion and focusing on the future rather than the past. No longer seen as an ‘alternative’ dispute resolution, mediation has become the preferred process for addressing conflict in successful organisations. Legislation due to be introduced in early 2014 will see many disputes diverted from the courts as the Government encourages and promotes the use of mediation.

So, what is mediation? Mediation is a voluntary process of conflict prevention and resolution that allows the parties an opportunity to address their issues in a confidential, private, and safe environment. Mediators are trained in conflict resolution skills and techniques and have the expertise needed to give people the best possible opportunity to resolve their disputes. Mediation is generally a much speedier process than more formal disciplinary or grievance procedures and can often be completed within a matter of days. Mediation provides an opportunity for more creative and innovative approaches to solving issues, that can lead to a solution which meets the needs of all those involved. Where an agreement is reached, this is kept confidential unless those involved choose otherwise, and it may be legally enforced.

If a mediation does not result in an agreement, the contents of the discussion remains confidential, and the those involved may take up, or return to, any alternative grievance procedure they choose, without the mediation affecting that procedure in any way. So it is a very low risk option.

There are many approaches to addressing workplace disputes and mediation can be requested by anyone concerned even if it is not given as an option in an employer’s existing procedures. Most importantly employees need to know they can take action before difficulties escalate, and find ways to secure a positive working environment.

Harriet Emerson and Rachel O’Sullivan are Certified Mediators at adjust. For more information call 087 650 8664, e-mail: info@adjust.ie or visit www.adjust.ie.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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