Workplace conflict is an unsettling, not to mention, expensive experience. According to a report published by Oxford Economics, replacing members of staff costs more than £30,000 per employee.

There are all sorts of reasons that spur people on to leave their jobs and any element of the workplace, culture or environment has the potential to impact employees’ perception of their job.

If employees aren’t happy at work for reasons such as workplace conflict with the boss, other managers or colleagues, then it could result in them deciding to up sticks and go elsewhere.

While workplace conflict isn’t totally preventable, there are steps managers can take to help handle and prevent conflict, here are five of them:

1. Acknowledge what’s happening

It can be tempting to try and turn a blind eye to conflict and pretend it’s not happening however, this will only make the situation worse. The sooner you act on tackling the issues, the easier they’ll be to resolve. Things are also far less likely to escalate out of control or reach a point of no return too.

2. Get the full picture before acting

Workplace conflicts usually involve more than one person, so before taking any action, make sure you find out who’s involved/implicated and what role they have to play in the situation. Where possible, stick to the facts and don’t get drawn into the ins and outs and ‘he said’, ‘she said’ claims.

3. Put yourself in the picture

The best way to truly understand the root cause of any problems is to put yourself in the shoes of those who are involved in the conflict. Only then, will you be able to obtain a true picture of what’s led to the current state of affairs.

4. Be clear on what’s acceptable (and what’s not)

If staff aren’t clear on what warrants acceptable behaviour, then how are they supposed to follow it? If you haven’t done so already, tell your staff what’s acceptable and what isn’t – this is a simple, but extremely effective step in helping conflict happening in the first place.

5. Invest in your staff

In some sectors, such as education and healthcare, staff are at risk of encountering workplace conflict everyday due to the nature of their work. This could involve being verbally abused on the phone by an angry customer or being assaulted by a patient or pupil.

Unfortunately, this type of behaviour can’t be avoided, but it can be managed and defused quickly, and with minimum injuries, with the right type of training, such as our conflict management and physical intervention training courses. You’ll find more details about them here

Whether it’s among staff or experienced by employees as they go about their work, workplace conflict is rife in most industries. Knowing how to handle it can make all the difference between quashing a storm in a teacup and saving people’s lives.

For more best practice advice on dealing with workplace conflict, or to find out more about our conflict management and physical intervention training, contact us on or 0845 576 0035.