Workplace Restoration: What Is It and Should We Use It?

  • April 05, 2021
  • Jesse Elders and Rahim Jamal, Kastner Lam LLP

Incidents of workplace harassment and violence are often the result of unhealthy systems and missed warning signs. These incidents – and the requisite investigations that follow – can also create harm and trauma that require additional interventions beyond resolution of the acute incident.

Workplace restoration is a response to workplace conflict that considers the larger context, and specifically what is needed to create a healthy and harmonious workplace. In this article, we describe workplace restoration, situate it within the applicable regulatory regime, and offer our views on when it should be considered by employers and their counsel.

Workplace Restoration: What it Means, What it Involves, and How it Differs from Restorative Justice

While there is significant variation among workplace restoration professionals about an exact definition of workplace restoration, a common focus is on relationships and the importance of relationships in working through conflict. Blaine Donais, President and Founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute and expert on the topic, states that the purpose of workplace restoration is “to restore trust in workplace relationships – both interpersonal and organizational”, so that an organization can move on after a stressful event. This can mean focusing on relationships beyond the complainant and respondent, and on the context or systems underlying the conflict. David Dyck, a conflict resolutions practitioner and Partner at Facilitated Solutions, says that when assisting institutions with restorative work, he is often looking for how an acute harm is tied to larger, systemic forces.