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Five Ways Acas Can Help Prevent Conflict In Your Small Business

Conflict is surprisingly common in small businesses. Our research shows that in the last 12 months, almost a quarter of all businesses experienced some form of workplace conflict. Left unchecked, disputes, grievances and rivalries can all quickly escalate, leading to a breakdown in workplace relations, co-operation, communication and ultimately productivity.

To help your business act quickly when issues arise, we offer a range of conflict management tools, training and guidance. Here are just five of the ways, we can help:

1. Making challenging conversations more manageable

The first step on the road to conflict resolution is usually to arrange a meeting with the involved parties. This often takes the form of an informal chat. However, where the conversation topics are more challenging, e.g. discussions about personal conduct, performance or personal issues, we offer a helpful Table for Conflict Discussions. This free download provides a simple framework for meetings that allows you to establish the right tone, address the issues and agree a way forward.

2. Helping to resolving poor performance issues

Managing performance is essential to keep staff motivated, reward achievement, measure individual contribution and create a framework for improvement. However, when an employee's work falls short of the mark, it's equally important to nip the problem in the bud.

If there is room for concern when it comes to an employee's performance, our tips on approaching a conversation around performance provides a structure for discussing this with the employee. This initial meeting should clarify why the employee has received a poor score for performance and give them the opportunity to respond.

Where extra training is required, our Learning OnLine modules can also help refresh your employee's knowledge and help them to develop their skills and potential further.

In instances where the employee is unhappy with the outcome of the meeting, and their performance scoring, we offer guidance on achieving a successful outcome.

Our guide on How to get performance management right provides expert advice on creating a performance assessment and review process that is fair, consistent and transparent at every level.

3. Promoting equality in the workplace

Creating a robust Equality Policy is a good way to ensure employees understand what is acceptable and what is required of them. In the case of discrimination, this document also provides a benchmark against which to measure and gauge behaviour.

Our Equality Policy Template provides a practical framework for creating a workplace policy. We also offer a number of downloadable guides to help you understand the basics of equality and discrimination, take steps to prevent discrimination and take action, if discrimination occurs.

4. Managing absence Issues

Unexpected Illness and absence can both create problems for smaller businesses, especially when an appropriate policy is not in place. Our step-by-step guide 'Managing Absence' helps you develop a structured policy for short and long-term sickness, and outline the procedures your business needs to manage unauthorised leave. This module includes everything from monitoring overall absence levels and keeping records, to discussing absence with employees on their return to work. The course also offers guidance on managing prolonged unauthorised absence, investigations into employee attendance and taking formal disciplinary action.

5. Resolving issues through mediation

In complex or prolonged disputes, mediation may offer an effective solution. The Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation helps managers and HR professionals to develop their mediation skills over a practical 5-day course. We have also worked in conjunction with the CIPD to create a handy guide to resolving workplace issues. If you're new to mediation, why not start with our online mediation questions and answers?

For more support and guidance on managing conflict in the workplace, simply visit Disputes and problems at work.