Disputes and problems at work

Healthy workplace relationships are essential to the success of any organisation. Even minor problems can develop into grievances or disputes if they're not dealt with quickly and effectively.

Having suitable policies and procedures to resolve workplace issues is essential. But where an issue turns into a problem, a positive result can be achieved through early and informal intervention.

Acas helps organisations of all sizes to avoid and resolve problems with relationships at work, saving time, money and stress for both the employer and employees. We can offer health checks, as well as advice and guidance to develop robust working policies. But where issues turn into problems, we offer free individual and collective conciliation services.

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

Simple steps for employers

  • Train managers to handle difficult conversations with employees (Acas can provide advice and training).
  • Encourage open expression of opinions and recognise the importance of feelings.
  • Listen to what people have to say.
  • Focus on interests not positions and personalities.
  • Have clear discipline, grievance and dispute procedures for dealing with conflict.

Simple steps for employees

  • It's always simpler to talk to people directly and informally about a problem.
  • Check with your line manager, HR, your finance team or others you think can help, to see if there has been a mistake or misunderstanding that has caused the problem unintentionally.
  • Keep a record of relevant events: include dates and times and a description of what happened; plus copies of any relevant paperwork, eg letters, memos, emails, notes of meetings.
  • Get advice about your rights Helpline Online.
  • If all informal internal procedures have been exhausted, make a formal complaint (follow your employer's procedures - if you have a union representative or other adviser, ask them to help).
  • Contact Acas for advice on Mediation, Acas Dispute Resolution and Arbitration . We provide all of these services for individuals and groups of employees (usually through a representative such as a Trade Union).

What sort of issues cause workplace disputes?

Watch our Helpline Adviser Ruth Chapman explain what kind of issues cause workplace disputes.

Acas provides training in your area on Dispute resolution and Discipline and grievance.

Raising an issue at work

When there's a problem at work, it should be tackled quickly. But which is best - the informal approach or using a formal channel for grievances? Our advisors explain your options.

Acas publications

You can download or order booklets, leaflets and handbooks covering a wide range of employment matters, from writing a contract of employment, to holiday entitlement, to the latest employment legislation, from our Publications section.

Workshops, projects and business solutions

Let us know how we can help