Discord between colleagues is not unusual. The average workplace brings together individuals from different walks of life, people with distinct characteristics, objectives, points of view and ways of doing things. Quarrels are bound to develop from time to time.

They can, however, have a significant impact on an organisation’s productivity, as well as on the health and wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional – of a workforce. In fact, new research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has shown that nearly a quarter (23%) of workers in Northern Ireland have been involved in workplace-based disputes during the past 12 months and that their mental health was adversely affected as a result.

Unsurprisingly, the CIPD’s Good Work Index, an annual benchmark of job quality in the UK, concluded that those who encounter such conflicts are considerably less satisfied in their roles than peers who do not. Of the respondents who confirmed that they had dealt with employment-related tensions over the course of the last year, 12% reported circumstances in which they were humiliated or undermined. Elsewhere, 10% cited experiencing verbal abuse and the same percentage recalled being shouted at or involved in a heated argument. One in 20 (5%), meanwhile, had faced discriminatory behaviour.

In Ireland, HR Barometer Pulse results published every year by Adare Human Resource Management showed that 74% of organisations recorded workplace conflict in 2023, up 5% on 2022.

The impact of these situations can, of course, be mitigated. Responsible employers should do everything possible to create safe, healthy and inclusive spaces, which elevate management practices designed to resolve employee friction and disagreements. Inspire provides a professional and independent dispute resolution service, available across Ireland. This comprises a range of interventions, including: remote and on-site mediation; post-mediation support; independent facilitated assessments, feedback and recommendations for teams in crisis; team and individual coaching; and one-on-one upskilling or support for individual managers.

In addition, the Inspire Support Hub is also home to extensive resources relating to stress at work and relationships with colleagues.

If you would like to find out more about services and support offered by Inspire, please feel free to contact enquiries@inspirewellbeing.org.

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