UK bosses letting employees down over workplace conflict

UK bosses letting employees down over workplace conflict

Less than half of employees believe their organisation has effective procedures for resolving interpersonal conflict, according to a recent report.

Managing conflict in the modern workplace, a new report from the CIPD, is based on two large scale surveys, one of employers and one of employees. 

It found over a third of employees have experienced some form of interpersonal conflict at work over the last year, with 15% reporting they have been bullied in the last three years.

The report raises concern about how these conflicts are dealt with. Less than half of employees agreed that ‘my organisation has effective procedures for resolving interpersonal conflict’ and a third of employees, who had had a serious conflict in the last 12 months, said the conflict or difficult relationship had not been resolved. 

A quarter of employees think challenging issues such as bullying and harassment are swept under the carpet in their organisation.

The critical importance of line management in both causing and preventing bullying and harassment at work is also raised in the report. 

Four in 10 of those who’ve been bullied or harassed say their manager was responsible, while a third of employers said one of the top barriers to effective conflict management is that managers don’t have the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour. 

Only two fifths of line managers say they have had people management training.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser, CIPD, said: “Managers should be important role models, set expectations of behaviour around dignity and respect, and gain the trust of their team. 

“The number of managers who are being blamed for harassment and bullying should serve as a wake-up call to employers to put training managers at the heart of efforts to prevent inappropriate workplace behaviour.

“Our research shows that managers who’ve received training can help to stop conflict from occurring and are much better at fostering healthy relationships in their team. And when conflict does occur, they can help to resolve the issue more quickly and effectively.”

The CIPD have created Dealing with conflict at work: a guide for people managers which can be viewed on their website.

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