Restorative justice is no longer a novel concept in the court system and it is used widely in juvenile justice. When it comes to workplace conflict, however, most employers still turn to mediation, where strict ground rules apply, everyone must remain emotionally controlled, polite and take turns in expressing their views.

Invariably, McDonald's first contact by an employer seeking help happens only after internal discipline, human resources and union involvement and mediation have all failed.

The environment can be toxic.

''We're dealing with conflict, where people supposed to be working together as a team are holding deep resentments and fixed and firm ideas. [The room] is full of emotion and very strong feelings. By definition it's messy and uncomfortable and people will go to great lengths to avoid it.''

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