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How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace can take a variety of different forms, such as an argument between two employees, or a staff dispute with a manager. Regardless of who’s involved, conflict tends to cause disruption – impacting productivity and staff morale. As such, it’s important to address it appropriately, with a view to creating a happier, more effective working environment.

Working with an HR professional to manage problems in the workplace is a good strategy. However, as a business-owner, it’s also important to be able to identify and understand the causes of conflict, and help to resolve them. Here’s a quick guide to help you.

Identifying the Signs

Discord is (usually) easily resolved if it’s identified early on. In some instances, conflict is obvious – for example, if two colleagues are having a row in the office. Be warned, not all instances are as easy to spot. Here are a few other tell-tale signs to look out for:

  • Staff attitude. Employees may seem dissatisfied or unhappy. A great way to monitor this is to assess attitude on a regular basis, using questionnaires (again, something an HR professional can help with).
  • Lack of motivation. Staff are less enthusiastic and overall productivity drops.
  • Friction. There’s a sense that something’s ‘off’ in the workplace – perhaps you’ve overheard some unpleasant remarks, or noticed some tension between staff.

Understanding the Causes

An HR specialist will firstly try to discover the root of the problem, in order to identify ways to improve the situation.

There are many reasons why conflict arises in the workplace. For example, a member of staff may feel unfairly treated, or sense that they’re not getting enough opportunity to develop in their role. They might have experienced bullying, or think they’re not being managed effectively.

There are many ways you can attempt to ascertain what’s wrong. Sometimes, all it takes is a quiet word or two – and many employees simply want the chance to air their grievances and feel that they’re being listened to.

On other occasions, you may need to take more direct action. If, for example, someone has made an accusation about bullying, you’ll need to address the situation, whilst adhering to the established company procedures.

How an HR Expert Can Help

Occasionally, workplace disputes are easy to resolve, simply by talking to the parties involved and acting as mediator. However, there may be times when this isn’t possible. As a business owner, it’s sometimes difficult to adopt an impartial approach, and you might not feel equipped with the necessary skills to help the situation.

An HR specialist is trained to deal with workplace conflict, by focusing on:

  • Regular interaction with staff – identifying issues before they become full-scale problems.
  • Developing correct procedures – outlining clear protocol, ensuring consistency and fairness in every situation.
  • Forming representative groups – for example, staff councils to support fellow workers.
  • Acting as a professional mediator – listening to staff grievances and helping the parties involved come to an amicable resolution.

HR Services in the South-West

If you’re worried about handling conflict in your business, or you require help with any other aspect of employment law, simply get in touch with Harris Law by calling 01803 861086 today.