A report published by ACAS has confirmed that staff turnover is the single largest expense to employers and that workplace conflict is costing employers £28.5billion a year. Nearly half a million employees resign each year because of conflict according to the study. In addition, 874,000 employees annually took sickness absences because of conflict. Companies using formal processes also increased costs, particularly when a conflict led to a resignation or dismissal. The report found on average that grievances cost £951 in management time.
What are the options to resolve workplace conflict?
Company policies on grievances will have an informal stage first to try and resolve the conflict. This can give you the option of discussing the issue with the individual, finding out what they want as an outcome and dealing with it without going through a formal process. It isn’t always possible to deal with a grievance informally though, it may depend on the situation or the employee may want it dealt with through the formal grievance procedure as they cannot see reason. It is a good idea to keep a record of any discussions. Often though if you deal with the issues quickly and before it is too late mediation can be a good way to resolve the situation.
Mediation involves an independent, impartial person who helps both sides to find a solution. You can use external mediators to your company to be completely independent but obviously there will be a cost associated with this, worth it though if it saves you the cost for following a formal process in terms of valuable time. Mediation is a great tool to resolve conflict as often the individuals can only see the conflict from their perspective and a mediator helps them to see other points of view and to reach a solution.
If all else fails, then the formal procedure can be used but this can be time consuming and stressful for everybody involved so ideally you want to try and resolve things in other ways if possible. If you have got to the formal procedure, it is almost more likely to lead to a resignation.
Top tips are:
- Don’t ignore the issues, this will likely lead to sickness absence or more conflict/a situation that becomes harder to resolve if you had dealt with it sooner.
- Consider mediation prior to the formal procedure
- Follow your internal procedures
- Ensure you follow the ACAS code of practice
- Be consistent with communication to all parties and ensure they know what is happening
- Seek advice where you need to