The latest figures from The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), show the significant financial impact workplace conflicts can have on a business.
In its latest report, Estimating the Costs of Workplace Conflicts, Acas has said that workplace conflict costs UK employers £28.5 billion every year, an average of just over £1,000 for every employee. This is based on the total cost to organisations in handling workplace conflict that includes informal, formal and legal processes, as well as the cost of sickness absences and resignations.
During a period where margins are being stretched, additional costs such as these will only increase the considerable financial pressure being placed on businesses. If you add to the fact that, according to Acas, nearly half a million employees resign each year as a result of conflict, then the argument for taking a proactive approach to workplace conflicts has never been clearer.
Handling disagreements and complaints early before employment relationships are damaged not only helps to save businesses time and money in managing those claims, but it can also prevent unnecessary recruitment costs further down the line.
So, as a business, what can you do to try and prevent workplace conflicts from materialising?
A proactive approach
The key is prevention. Having a robust set of policies and procedures in place that are clearly communicated to employees and managers is an important step in creating an open and transparent workplace. If your business instils agreed customs, ideas and behaviours that everyone buys into then you can create a positive culture where people believe they are being listened to and one that encourages employees to handle any potential conflicts in a proactive and positive way.
It’s essential to have a formal, written grievance procedure in place that is reviewed on a regular basis in line with any changes in legislation or official guidance, and managers should receive relevant training, so they know the steps to be followed. Ensure that when a grievance is raised, you refer to your procedures immediately – allowing you to manage workplace conflicts effectively and in a formal way. This includes investigating grievances fairly and consistently; creating open lines of communication for everyone involved; taking action and making decisions as soon as possible; and allowing the employee the right of appeal.
Focusing on diversity and equality
Creating a culture of fairness and inclusion is key when focusing on diversity and equality. This should be displayed throughout an employee’s journey with the company – from recruitment, through to day-to-day activities and any formal exit interview. Ensure key members of the team are aware and follow the correct procedures and are actively identifying and acting upon any potential breaches. Finally, arm each and every member of staff with the skills and training to ensure diversity and inclusion become a natural part of the organisational makeup of the business, and not something that you simply pay lip service to.
Bullying and anti-harassment
A policy on bullying and anti-harassment is also helpful as it can set out the company’s standpoint on such behaviour, give examples of what this can look like and make it clear it won’t be tolerated. This can reassure employees who feel they are being bullied or harassed that they can raise any concerns in a safe space, and set out the steps for you to take action against any perpetrators where appropriate. Training for staff and management on this subject can also help to the avoid behaviour arising in the first place, by illustrating that it is not acceptable in your workplace and highlighting the potential consequences.
In a world where more than half of employees are currently working from home, it’s vital to have the right systems in place that provide you with the flexibility to manage potential grievances that may arise remotely, while ensuring they’re firmly in place once people start to return to the office.
If you would like to discuss providing training for your staff around any of these issues, contact Chloe Pugh on firstname.lastname@example.org call 07500 797553, or visit our training website Pannone Academy at https://www.pannoneacademy.com.