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Workplace conflict – a £ billion problem

Workplace conflict – a £ billion problem


A recent report published by Acas revealed that workplace conflict costs UK employers £28.5 billion per year, explains Malachi McPherson from the TCM Group in this article. Mediation emerges as a powerful process for resolving conflicts and reducing the financial and human costs associated with workplace disputes. By embracing mediation, organisations can foster a more constructive and harmonious work environment, paving the way for improved employee well-being and enhanced productivity.

Research by the CIPD has shown that 26% of employees and 20% of employers believe that conflict at work is a ‘common occurrence.’ With this in mind, it’s probably no surprise that research conducted by CPP Inc. in the United States revealed that US employees spent almost 3 hours per week on average dealing with conflict at work. Due to this the annual financial cost of conflict to US organisations is $ 359 billion.

Over in the UK, a 2021 report by Acas estimates workplace conflict costs UK employers £28.5 billion every year, which is just over £1,000 on average for every employee. Within this, £11.9 billion in costs arose from resignations, £10.5 billion from disciplinary dismissals and £2.2 billion from sickness absence.

The same report, analysing workplace conflict in 2018/19 found that 9.7 million workers experienced some kind of workplace conflict, that’s almost 1/3 of the UK’s working population! Of these, over 50% suffered stress, anxiety or depression due to the conflict, 900,000 took time off work, 500,000 resigned and over 300,000 were dismissed.

While some degree of conflict at work is inevitable and if handled well can spurn innovation, problem solving, collaboration, greater understanding and empathy, these statistics frame workplace conflict as a damaging and costly aspect of workplace culture. Additionally, these statistics do not illustrate and convey the ‘human’ cost of conflict on individuals be that effects on mental health, burnout, decreased morale, decreased productivity, breakdown in wider personal and professional relationships and lots more.

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