tug of war

Up to half of HR departments report an increase in staff disputes and more than a quarter have had to mediate in disputes among senior management.

Workplace disputes on the rise, study suggests, with staff and senior managers equally likely to be involved.

Nearly one in seven HR professionals report feeling physically threatened while dealing with a workplace dispute, new research has found.

The stud, by pension provider MetLife UK, found that 47 percent of HR departments have seen an increase in the number of workplace disputes over the past two years, with stress named as a major contributory factor. More than half of HR departments said stress has increased in their organisation over the same period.

While 27 percent of HR professionals said they have dealt with confrontations between employees, the same number have also had to mediate fallout’s between senior management.

Figures from the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) estimate that workplace disputes of all kinds cost UK businesses up to £33 billion per year, with up to 20 percent of leadership time taken up by such issues. The CBI reported that up to 370 million working days are lost annually through workplace grievances.

Sometimes, HR professionals bear the brunt because they are viewed as being “on the side of management”, she said.

Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said businesses should look at ways of reducing rising stress levels in the workplace.

“By adopting a range of relatively low-cost solutions, including conducting a stress audit, offering line managers support and resilience training, as well as making use of the range of health and wellness benefits on offer, organisations can help create a healthy working environment for staff to build their resilience and reduce incidences of stress occurring.”

The figures on HR-related confrontations are broadly in line with a recent TUC study that found one in eight employees have experienced violence of some form in the workplace. Those working in healthcare are the most likely to be affected (22 percent), followed by education, hospitality, and retail and leisure.