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MSU Extension offering new online course for workplaces facing conflict relating to social distancing policy enforcement

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — A new online course is available for workplaces sorting through COVID-19 related conflicts.

Michigan State University Extension’s online Communicating through Conflict During COVID course offers Michigan businesses, municipalities and community groups a low-cost opportunity to provide conflict resolution training to their employees and members, giving them skills that will help them adapt to Michigan’s Michigan Department of Health and Human Services orders put in place in mid-November, officials said.

In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance for employers to provide training for employees on conflict resolution and put steps in place to prevent workplace violence when enforcing social distancing policies around COVID-19. This guidance came after numerous reports across the country of resistance to new policies and even violent situations in retail, services, and other customer-based businesses.

In response, educators at MSU Extension created a short, self-paced module to help businesses and organizations across the state of Michigan train their employees on this particular topic. Now employers can enroll their staff in “Communicating through Conflict during COVID” online and in just 30 minutes, they will learn practical skills to help them deescalate and manage conflict relating to COVID-19, social distancing, and mask-wearing requirements. The module includes real-life scenarios in not only office and retail settings, but on social media as well.

By better understanding what may be causing the conflict, warning signs of aggression, and practicing self-management techniques, employees can feel better equipped to engage with others safely, officials said.

The course is $20 for individual registrants, and for groups of five or more, it is $10 per person. Once the course is completed, participants will receive a downloadable “badge” they can share on social media, email signatures, or print and display.

MSU Extension also offers a longer certificate course in “Communicating through Conflict” for those who would like to learn this skillset applied to other personal and professional settings. This two-module certificate course is available for $50 for individuals and course graduates will receive free access to the COVID-19 course upon completion.

Anyone interested in either of these online course programs can visit the MSU Extension website at canr.msu.edu/conflict. For large group audiences or customized program offering, contact Lindsey Gardner at lgardner@msu.edu.

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