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R practice is usually within the context of recognised and often legally required systems

of employment. Yet within these systems are the everyday relationships that need to be managed, developed, challenged and grown. A new approach to HR, developed by Organisation Development consultancy Mayvin after a collaboration with Surrey County Council, invites us to consider the formal and the informal management of relationships as equally important. Restorative HR (RHR) is a pio-

neering fi eld of practice that has been successfully used by Surrey County Council as an eff ective fi rst response to workplace grievances and performance improvements to save time and potentially money. T e approach was inspired by restorative justice princi- ples, which Surrey County Council adopted to help divert hundreds of young people away from crime. T e council had looked to the success of its youth service, which was actively encouraging restorative justice (where victims are involved in enabling off enders to make up for damage caused), reducing the number of court cases by 60 per cent. Interestingly, the emergence of

restorative practice in daily youth justice work appeared to be changing attitudes and culture within the youth support service with professionals taking a restorative mindset to build, maintain and, when necessary, repair relationships. T e council asked: how could we use a restorative approach in other functions, such as HR, and evolve to be a restorative organisation? Mayvin worked with Surrey County Council to adopt and develop the re- storative approach for HR, by creating an accredited development process to empower the HR team to play its part in supporting organisational change. T e HR version of restorative

practice has its roots in various branches of organisational work and support service practice, including mediation and confl ict resolution, organisation development, HRBP practice, and personal eff ectiveness. It focuses on developing an organisation’s HR staff so they can help to resolve issues more quickly and eff ectively than through a formal route. James Traeger, director at Mayvin,

20 | December 2016 | THE


Take the principles of restorative justice, add them to HR and you have RHR – a new ‘nip it in the bud’ approach to solving workplace problems

explains: “When an organisation is investing resources in a coaching culture, at multiple levels of leadership, RHR can support this shift by encouraging people to solve problems for themselves, rather than relying on others to sort out challenging problems for them. Rather than seeing these challenges as something to be avoided or glossed over, we think that if they are handled skilfully, they might be a source of creativity and development for the organisation, just as overcoming challenges can be a source of learning and inspiration for individuals.” T e benefi ts for the practitioners include reduced workload and

paperwork, while staff and their managers feel better about themselves. Confl icts, disputes and disciplinary sessions between staff and employer are now dealt with before the issue goes through a potentially lengthy and costly offi cial process. Surrey County Council’s cabinet

member for business services, Denise Le Gal, says: “We need staff capable of delivering essential services in the most cost-eff ective, effi cient way, especially at a time when our budgets are under heavy strain from rising demand for services like adult social care and school places, and our restorative approach plays a big part in ensuring that’s


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