Well, last week was an interesting one as we got to work on two different initiatives. One involved a few of us trainees working with Nottingham Trent University on a virtual insight/vacation scheme to help provide the students with some insight into what life is like as a Trainee. It involved us doing a few videos to show what ‘a day in the life of a Trainee’ is like and then the week ended with us all doing a live Q&A session. We also saw the launch of a virtual work experience event that we are running for 6th formers at Derby Moor school. So, all very exciting!

In today’s blog, I will be touching upon the topic of our next PowerHour on Tuesday 27th July – ‘Managing workplace disputes’.

Conflict at work can show itself in many forms and the impacts of such conflict can either be hidden, i.e. through unexplained resignations, or visible, such as if an employee submits an early conciliation (EC) notification or an employment tribunal (ET) claim.

New ACAS analysis states that “conflict costs the UK £28.5 billion a year” which is an average cost of £1,000 per employee. The report explains that conflict is usually measured at 4 stages, broadly reflecting the levels of potential escalation:

1. Individuals who report isolated incidents of conflict or ongoing difficult relationships, and estimate the costs of resignation, absence, and reduced productivity.
Costs incurred by organisations attempting to resolve issues through informal discussion – either between the individuals themselves or with line managers, HR practitioners and/or employee representatives.
2. The use and cost of workplace mediation or more formalised mechanisms including disciplinary and grievance procedures.
3. The extent of extra-organisational conflict, including that which results in ACAS early conciliation (EC) notifications, and in some cases, employment tribunal (ET) claims.
4. The report states that close to 10 million people experience conflict at work each year- which is a startling figure! That more than half of those people reported suffering with stress, anxiety, or depression as a result of that conflict. It is estimated that just under 900,000 employees took time off work, nearly half a million resigned and over 300,000 were dismissed because of conflict.

What we therefore need to start thinking about as employers is educating ourselves in tackling conflicts in the workplace and not letting them get out of hand. Costs in the earlier stages of conflict will be relatively low but will start to mount if employees continue to work while ill and/or take time off work through sickness absence. The costs then take a huge leap when employment relationships are ended, either through resignation or dismissal.

Statistics show that the average costs of conflict where employees had no engagement with their managers, HR or union representatives were higher than where such discussions took place. Something that I feel speaks for itself! Compare this to circumstances in which conflict resulted in formal procedures, costs were more than 3 times than those that were resolved informally.
So, what does this all mean? That, as employers, you really need to think about how you manage and resolve conflicts at work. That you should perhaps consider the informal route of resolving a conflict – perhaps just even having a quiet word – before getting ahead of yourselves.

In our upcoming PowerHour event, we will be providing you with our tips and advice on how to deal with such disputes, which will hopefully give you the tools you need to deal with any future workplace disputes that may arise.

You can register your space on the event here. See you on the 27th!