Disputes and conflict in the workplace

Conflicts at work take many forms. It might be an individual with a grievance, a problem between an employee and a manager or conflict between two co-workers. Any conflict can get in the way of work and make your business less productive.

Dealing with conflict at an early stage will save time, money and stress later on, for both the employer and employees and will stop the situation developing into a full-blown dispute.

Some of the issues that can cause conflict between individuals and groups at work include:

Individual conflict in the workplace infographic


Questions and answers

What can be done to minimise and resolve conflict in the workplace?

There are some key steps an employer can take to help ensure disputes and conflict don't arise too often, and to enable them to be dealt with when they do:

How can I prepare for difficult conversations with employees?

Having one-to-one conversations about issues requires a great deal of sensitivity and empathy. You must try to:

Your first step should be to check if there has been a mistake or misunderstanding that has caused the problem unintentionally. It's always simpler to talk to people directly and informally about a problem. For instance, if you've been paid the wrong amount or not at all, you can check with HR or accounts to see whether all your details are recorded correctly or if there has been some mistake they can correct.

If you can't sort the matter out informally, you may wish to:

Acas Productivity tool

Take the Acas self-diagnosis Productivity Tool test to understand your organisation's strengths and weaknesses, and to help you identify simple practical steps you can take to get the best out of your staff. The tool will produce a report with links to relevant Acas help and tools.

What is the difference between Acas Collective Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration?

Watch our simple explanation of the difference between the three.

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Acas training - did you know?

Acas run practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and to create more productive workplace environments.

Click to view related Acas training and course dates in your area for Dispute resolution, Discipline and grievance and Skills for supervisors.

Acas Helpline

If you are facing any disputes within your organisation and need advice and guidance on how to resolve them, the Acas Helpline can explain the options available to you. Acas advises that organisations should address issues as early as possible before they escalate.

Call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

View further information about our Helpline service, including our Helpline Online FAQ tool on the Acas Helpline page.