Nearly half a million workers resign every year over workplace disputes.

A recent study has also found that workplace conflict is costing employers £28.5 billion a year, with remote working only adding to the pressure of handling these staff disputes.

Combining conflicts from resignations, absences to presenteeism, most of the costs to companies added together equates to around £14.7 billion annually, according to the study.

The single largest expense to employers was staff turnover, with the total cost of ending employment, through resignation or dismissal, and replacing employees amounting to an additional £2.6 billion a year.

It is clear that avoiding workplace disputes are a crucial factor in saving money for businesses. Not only will finding effective ways to manage workplace disputes encourage success within a business, but it will also boost recruitment and retention.

That is why it is vital for employers to reduce the risk of any staff conflicts that may erupt. Some of the common causes of workplace disputes are factors like, poor communication or mismanagement.

However, there are many other ways that employers can prevent workplace disputes. We recommend considering some of the following actions:

Implementing guidelines and processes for resolving disputes: Whether it is an employee’s attendance, behavior or a complaint made by another worker, it is essential to have a strong disputes policy in place that is legally compliant. Without this, it will leave businesses exposed to potential claims.

Businesses should also establish set procedures for disputes, which are clearly laid out in their employee handbook and employment documents.

Employers should also have an equal opportunities policy in place and communicate this with employees. This should highlight that you are aware of any issues relating to discrimination, harassment and victimisation and will reassure workers that you are committed to following the appropriate legislation when resolving disputes fairly.

Training line managers with core people skills: Managers have a vital role in disputes in the workplace. As an employer, you should consider training managers to become mediators in conflicts and assist them with negotiation skills.

Managers should also be given time to familiarise themselves with internal policies around disputes to ensure they protect the business from any potential claims.

Not only this, but poor communication from managers, including a lack of training or personality clashes, can have a detrimental effect on workers too.

Managers need to understand how to treat their employees respectfully and fairly, while still ensuring work gets done. This will only increase employee’s motivation to work productively.

This training should be ongoing and regular refreshers held to ensure managers maintain these important skills.

Communicate with staff: If your employees do not feel that they can raise a concern with you, then issues may grow.

Therefore, good, and regular communication is key to understanding the workforce and identifying issues effectively.

Even if the concerns are not maintained, an employee is less likely to intensify a complaint or resign if they know that they have been listened to and their concerns thoroughly considered.

We appreciate that communication has become difficult due to the constrains of remote working, within some workplaces, but this is not an excuse for not speaking with employees and resolving disputes.

Many of the regular grievance and complaint procedures can still be handled via tele-conferencing or in a covid-secure environment if needs be.

Seek professional support: At HR Caddy, we can manage and conduct independent, impartial investigations into disciplinary, grievance and bullying & harassment matters. We provide specialist support such as, workplace counseling and coaching to overcome disputes, developed from years of experience.

For more help or advice on workplace disputes, contact our expert team today.