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Conflict Management


Conflict management is the process of reducing the instances of threatening behaviour, aggression, harassment and violence in the workplace. This is achieved through a combination of effective workplace systems, design of the working environment and training to enable employees to act proactively.

Conflict resolution is a set of skills which can be used to lessen the impact of conflict when escalation occurs. Conflict management will reduce the instances of workplace violence, but will not eliminate them entirely; it is conflict resolution skills which will enable employees to avoid conflict escalating into physical aggression or violence.

Impact on your staff

  • Physical injury
  • Work-related stress – which can have long-term effects on health
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Job dissatisfaction and poor performance

Impact on your business

  • Lost staff time from injuries and stress
  • Higher staff turnover, leading to increased recruitment and training costs
  • Damage to the reputation of your business
  • Potential compensation claims by staff

Your Duty

You have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This duty includes all forms of work-related violence, which HSE defines as: ‘Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’. This means:

  • physical violence – including kicking, spitting, hitting or pushing, as well as more extreme violence with weapons
  • verbal abuse – including shouting, swearing or insults, racial or sexual abuse
  • threats and intimidation
  • Tackling the risk of violence is the same as dealing with any other possible cause of harm in the workplace, such as slips and trips and lifting heavy loads.

What to look out for in Licensed premises

The main causes of violence in pubs/clubs include:

  • disagreements between customers
  • customers being drunk
  • refusing a sale or asking someone to leave the premises
  • poor or slow service
  • customers who have used illegal drugs.

The main causes of violence in shops include:

  • the unpredictable behaviour of shoplifters and drug users
  • refusing a sale or asking someone to leave the premises
  • poor or slow service
  • verbal abuse (this is more common than physical violence).

Ways to avoid and reduce conflict:

  • Looking out for early signs such as raised voices and agitation through body language
  • Provide a high standards of service with efficiency and politeness
  • Getting to know the customers and their needs
  • Being attentive and observant to the customers
  • Depersonlising refusal by mentioning your legal responsibilities.

How to deal with conflict:

  • Do not take personally what customers say as they are frustrated or angry with the situation
  • Never lose your temper as this causes more problems than solving it
  • Think carefully before you speak or react and keep calm and polite at all times
  • Call for help/assistance from your colleagues if the customer becomes aggressive
  • When you feel the situation is getting out of control then call the police for assistance