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Managing Stress and Conflict | HR Hot Topic

15th March 2017 HR and H&S

Statistics published by the HSE show that the total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers.

Employers have duties under health and safety law to assess and take measures to control risks from work-related stress. They also have a duty under common law to take reasonable care to ensure the health and safety and welfare of employees.

If an employee suffers from stress related ill-health and the court decides that the employer should have been able to prevent it, the employer could be found to be negligent. There is no limit to the compensation an employee could get from this.

Managing stress and conflict in the workplace can be a challenge.  The symptoms may be difficult to recognise as they are not always obvious, they are both linked to similar behaviours and often linked to each other.

It can be difficult to determine which came first the stress or the conflict? It is important that any situations of stress or conflict are addressed quickly and dealt with appropriately.

Stress and Conflict in the workplace can affect:
• Levels of motivation
• Performance & productivity
• Sickness absence levels

Stress and Conflict can cause:
• Disagreements & disputes
• Increased workload on other team members
• Low staff retention levels
• Loss of talent
• An increased level of grievances from staff in the affected area of the business

Stress and Conflict can be a result of many factors:
• Poor management
• Inadequate training
• Poor communications
• Bullying and harassment.

Managing Stress and Conflict

The management of stress and conflict will vary; it may involve dealing with an individual person or a group of people. Where the stress and conflict are linked the remedial action taken to alleviate one may invariably alleviate the other.

Recognising signs of stress and conflict as early as possible will mean that managers will have a better chance to:
• Pinpoint the cause
• Mediate/ intervene before things escalate
• Establish a resolution
• Put support in place where appropriate

Some managers will find it easier than others to pick up signs of stress and conflict.

What can employers do to help?

• Create awareness in the workplace, improve understanding of stress and conflict, this may include implementing initiatives
• Encourage open communication between staff and line managers; some individuals may find this easier than others
• Have clear policies in place
• Build line management capabilities through training and support programmes
• Know when & how to seek specialist support


If you would like to discuss this or any HR related issues please contact a member of the team on 01206 262117 or email dkillick@svcgroup.co.uk.

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