|True Stories: Saving Staff and Money
Guiding People Through Conflict
A succinct summary and application of biblical conflict resolution principles for those trying to assist other people who are struggling with conflict.
In January of 1997, our ministry revised its discipline and grievance policy to include principles of biblical peacemaking. Among other things, we and our employees agree to use mediation and arbitration, both internally and through the Institute for Christian Conciliation (a division of Peacemaker Ministries) if necessary. We have already used these principles to resolve four employee conflicts, with significant relational and economic benefits.
- A major difference in philosophy came to our attention following a devotion in one of our group homes. We learned that one employee had beliefs that were strikingly different from our mission statement. I began the process of an investigation, having peacemaking in mind, and using the peacemaking principles as I went through each phase.We found it necessary to dismiss the employee, but having undergirded our process with these principles, we were thoroughly prepared when, a few weeks after the employee was dismissed, we received an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim. Because we had handled this matter with the dignity and honesty that Peacemaker Ministries teaches, we felt confident that we had a strong case. The case was dismissed by the EEOC, resulting in only nominal attorney fees. By investing just six hours in peacemaking, we avoided a prolonged and expensive legal process.
- When one of our employees persisted in spreading rumors about a couple on campus, it grew into a serious matter that threatened to damage lives and cause us to lose valuable employees. Qualified married couples are especially hard to find, and the couple in question had been with us for over six years. Another couple who had also been damaged by the rumors had been with us for a year and were proving to be one of our best couples in implementing our model of youth services.I met individually with each person, then each couple, and then arranged a couple of meetings together. Assignments were given using Scripture and creative ways to be kind to one another. Finally, after establishing the seriousness of what was happening and the potential loss and damage, forgiveness resulted. The couples who were ready to leave decided to stay, and the individual who was gossiping learned a valuable lesson about herself. She is now able to work in these homes again, and is trusted in this capacity.We invested approximately six hours in peacemaking. In addition to retaining valuable staff we saved approximately $8,000 in relocation expenses for staff we would have had to move, $7,000 in recruiting, relocating, and training costs for two new couples and one new assistant, and an untold amount of money for payment of hours to employees who would have had to temporarily cover the vacancies.
- We recently had an internal grievance settled by the peacemaking process. An employee was quoted as making a statement to a youth that was detrimental to the youth. The employee who was quoted would be very hard to replace. In fact, replacing this employee would have resulted in many unresolved issues with other youth as well.After receiving the grievance appeal, I was able to bring the two employees together. Each was given an individual assignment to read and pray about, and I was able to act as a facilitator as they worked out their differences. As it turned out, there had been a misquote, so the entire matter was dismissed. There was an opportunity to be reconciled, both with the employees affected, and with the youth in question. I invested approximately four hours in peacemaking. We saved at least $4,600 in expenses that would have been required to recruit, relocate, and train a replacement for this person.
- Our most difficult and controversial issue to date has been one in which an extremely serious allegation was made against one of our employees. The resulting investigation was lengthy and difficult. After twenty-four hours of investigation and peacemaking by our staff, the employee voluntarily turned in a resignation.The last several hours of our time with this staff member was a time of genuine reconciliation and prayerful support and counsel. Although we had to incur costs to replace this position, our use of peacemaking principles enabled us to preserve our Christian witness, truly minister to this person, and avoid damage to important relationships.
We are deeply grateful to Peacemaker Ministries for helping us to understand and apply the peacemaking principles that God has given to us in His Word. It is, as you can see, having a significant impact on our staff and the hundreds of people we serve.