Reducing conflict in the workplace


Defining workplace conflict

The consequences of workplace conflict

What can you do to reduce conflict in the workplace?

The importance of an inclusive reward and recognition strategy

Diversify your rewards

Reduce conflict in the workplace with Sodexo Engage




Reducing conflict in the workplace

According to research published by ACAS in 2021, workplace conflict costs UK businesses £28.5 billion annually, working out at around £1000 per employee. Using survey data provided by CIPD, the report found that almost 10 million people suffered conflict in the workplace. In some instances, the conflict proved detrimental to the employee’s mental wellbeing.


Thursday 20th October is National Conflict Resolution Day, so there’s no better time to review your organisation’s culture and take steps to alleviate conflict in the workplace.


Defining workplace conflict

Since your workforce comprises individuals with different personality types, it’s impossible to rid your business of all sources of conflict. Some workplace conflicts can be healthy, and individuals and teams should feel comfortable raising issues and challenging each other – if it’s productive and controlled.


So how do we differentiate between healthy competition and conflict? According to Wikipedia, organisational conflict is defined as:


  • Personal conflict: disagreements between two people that may not be directly related to roles and could be due to a personality clash.
  • Intragroup conflict: this is also personality-driven but linked to a group of people who lean more towards working autonomously and resent dependence on other groups.
  • Intergroup conflict occurs when there are strains between departments, where one group perceives the other to be negatively impacting them.


These conflicts are caused by employee roles, passive-aggressive behaviour, and even office romances.


Wikipedia gives us a basis to work with, but other situations can cause conflicts, such as workplace stress, employee disengagement and absenteeism. Conflict may also arise if employees feel undervalued or perceive the organisation’s reward and recognition strategy favouring specific teams or roles.



The consequences of workplace conflict

Out of the 10 million people surveyed during the ACAS study mentioned above, 900,000 (9%) took additional absences because of workplace conflict, and 3% lost their jobs.


Absences cost the UK economy £14 billion annually, a figure you could reduce by implementing effective conflict resolution strategies and creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture.


The costs continue to rack up because conflict can lead to the loss of your top talent. With the cost-of-living crisis, employees face considerable stress in their personal lives, and they don’t want to put their mental health at further risk by suffering through conflict at work.


45% of people in employment are searching for their next role, and positive workplace culture and employee experience are high on their list of priorities.  


What can you do to reduce conflict in the workplace? 

The key word is ‘manage,’ and we should add ‘lessen’ to that, too, because when you’re dealing with a diverse group of people with different opinions and drivers, there will always be some form of conflict.


You can hire organisations specialising in conflict resolution when they escalate and become unmanageable. This may be the best course of action, especially if the cost of bringing in outside resources outweighs the cost to your business if you lose talent. Not only that, but when an employment tribunal could cost around £8,500, it pays to invest in proactive ways of tackling employee conflict.


External mediation is the extreme end of the situation, and there are steps you can take to avoid getting to this point. When you prioritise your employee experience offering, create a culture of communication and support, and increase physical, mental, and financial wellbeing, you’ll see an increase in workplace happiness.


A positive workplace culture is a must, but here are other steps you can take to alleviate workplace conflict:


  • Establish a clear whistle-blowing policy
  • Transparent reporting and organisational structure
  • A focus on team-building initiatives
  • Ensure line managers adopt an empathetic, open-door approach
  • Allow the opportunity for flexible working
  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance.

The cost of implementing some of these strategies would be minimal, with the benefits far outweighing the investment.



the importance of An inclusive reward and recognition strategy

When it comes to recognising performance, it can be a challenge to be inclusive. Some measuring tools are more straightforward than others. For example, you can measure and reward your sales team’s performance using sales figures. You can measure the success of your accounts department by setting goals like reducing aged debt.


What of the teams and departments that contribute to the overall business goals but whose achievements can’t be measured in numbers?


One solution is to put the power of rewarding brilliance in the hands of your employees by creating an internal nomination process. Define the pillars of excellence, such as teamwork, going above and beyond or leading by example - you choose what matters most! Then employees can nominate colleagues that deserve recognition, either at set intervals or throughout the year, as and when.

Keep the process inclusive by using a points-based system that can be 'cashed in' for a prize at the end of the year. Embed our huge range of employee rewards and vouchers into your strategy, and you'll be rewarding employees in a meaningful way and boosting engagement and retention.


Diversify your rewards

Reviewing and, if necessary, overhauling your reward and recognition strategy is the first step towards creating a culture of fairness, which will, in turn, reduce workplace conflict. The next step is ensuring that your rewards and gifts can be diversified to meet all employee interests, thus making them more meaningful.


Here at Sodexo Engage, we have the broadest benefits reward offering on the market.


Keep it green and remain digital with our eVouchers and Gift Cards that give employees an unrivalled choice, with over 80 brands to spend at their fingertips. Our Voucher Cheques are another fantastic option, whether you want to use them as part of your regular reward strategy or as employee Christmas gifts. Better still, we only bill you for the vouchers redeemed by your employees, not the amount ordered.



Reduce conflict in the workplace with Sodexo EngagE

Whether you’re aiming to create a positive workplace culture and reduce conflict in the workplace by reducing stress or revolutionising your rewards strategy, Sodexo Engage can help.


With over 60 years of experience, our employee engagement experts will guide you through ouemployee wellbeing packages that will support your employees’ mental, physical, and financial wellbeing.


Use this year’s National Conflict Resolution Day to take positive and effective steps to reduce conflict in your business and enjoy the measured benefits that come with happy employees.


Contact Sodexo Engage today for an inclusive and flexible approach to your unique business needs.



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