Acas publishes report on estimated costs of workplace conflict


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On 11 May 2021, Acas published a report addressing the impact of workplace conflict on individuals and employers, and estimating the overall cost of workplace conflict to UK organisations. 

The report draws on data from a variety of sources. Some key findings include that:

  • An estimated 485,800 employees resign each year due to conflict at work.  The costs of recruiting replacement employees amounts to £2.6 billion each year, with the cost of lost output as new employees get up to speed amounting to £12.2 billion.
  • Workplace presenteeism, where individuals suffering from stress, anxiety and depression continue to work, has a negative impact on productivity and an annual cost estimated to be between £590 million and £2.3 billion.  Sickness absence resulting from workplace conflict is estimated to cost UK employers £2.2 billion each year.
  • The estimated overall total annual cost of conflict to UK employers is £28.5 billion, representing an average of just over £1,000 for every employee in the UK each year. The total cost of management time spent dealing with potential and actual litigation is estimated at £282 million each year, with a further £264 million spent on legal fees.

In the foreword to the report, the Acas Chief Executive advocates "conflict competence", early intervention before conflicts reach formal workplace procedures, and reflecting on conflict to create fairer and more inclusive workplaces. Employers are encouraged to invest in effective early resolution mechanisms, to place greater emphasis on repairing employment relationships and addressing performance concerns promptly, to address disciplinary issues in a way that focuses on learning and avoids blame, and to have more "connected" HR practitioners who foster positive relationships between managers, employers and employee representatives. 

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