During the daily hustle and bustle of business, competing goals and personalities can collide to create damaging conflicts at work. In this blog, I will reveal some HR secrets to help you keep your team on the right track. According to data published by Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, conflicts at work cost the UK an estimated £28.5 billion per year. That’s the equivalent of more than £1,000 for each employee. Annually, nearly 10 million people experience conflicts at work with most suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. Of those, nearly one in 10 employees had to take time off work, around half a million resigned and more than 300,000 were dismissed. So what can you do to prevent conflicts from causing lasting damage to your business? As an experienced HR consultant, I have a few ideas…
Keeping problems bottled up can cause unnecessary ill feelings and hostility between colleagues, teams and departments. Businesses need to be pulling in the same direction, but they can only do this by promoting open communication among employees. Rather than playing the blame game, owners and managers need to create an environment where people feel able to voice opinions, concerns and feedback without fearing for their job. Talking to each other in a friendly, professional manner can stop minor issues from escalating.
Communication is just one element of a respectful workplace culture, where staff treat each other with respect – regardless of their position, ethnicity or background. Diversity and inclusion policies are not about ticking boxes, businesses must make every employee feel valued and supported. When instances of discrimination or harassment do occur, the company’s complaints processes must be fast and fair - swift solutions need to be identified.
Invest in training
Are your managers and supervisors able to spot conflicts at work? Businesses need to provide adequate HR training so that policies and procedures are enforced correctly. Equipping leaders with the management skills to successfully handle disputes can prevent damage to the business, while showing employees that issues are taken seriously. The worst thing a company can do is to ignore a problem, as resentment can spread throughout the organisation leading to more problems further down the line.
Stay objective, not subjective
When two members of staff clash, employers must remain neutral to display fairness to both sides. While this can be difficult if a case involves a senior manager, taking sides can reinforce perceptions of a ‘them and us’ culture. Avoid nurturing a toxic workplace by displaying objectivity at all times. This also means protecting those employees who highlight issues or make complaints. There are serious legal consequences for penalising whistleblowers, so businesses need to tread carefully to avoid costly discrimination and harassment claims.
Need advice on conflicts at work?
While conflicts at work can be expected, they can be resolved amicably with the right processes and training. By encouraging communication and a positive attitude, a company can turn potentially major problems into minor bumps on the road to becoming a high-performance organisation. HR is never straightforward, so businesses should seek professional advice. JT HRConsultancy is an established HR services company based in Bedfordshire with clients across the UK. If you need help of advice on an employment issue, call me on 07715 026128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org