Managing the risk of conflict*

Excessive employee turnover, absenteeism, stress-related illnesses, grievances, complaints and reduced productivity are some of the costly by-products of unmanaged conflict. Unresolved conflict can also negatively impact on the health and wellbeing of employees, making it an OH&S concern.

The Australian Commercial Disputes Centre (ACDC) is a specialist in the field of dispute resolution and offers a range of best practice training and consultancy services to manage all types of conflict, complaints and grievances. ACDC's Training Manager, Lynne Richards, says, "When managers fail to act as conflict escalates, particularly if it reaches complaint-level, it can expose organisations to liability under OH&S legislation. The legal ramifications of inadequate systems can be serious. Increasingly, organisations see the benefits of integrating conflict management training into their risk management strategy".

Organisations have an OH&S obligation in relation to the psychological needs of those in the workplace. Stress-related issues arising from workplace conflict cannot be ignored. Lynne says, "This makes conflict resolution training a smart investment – it manages risk for the organisation while rewarding staff with professional development.

"Organisational change, ineffective leadership styles and poor workplace relations are also recognisable risk factors," reminds Lynne.

"With training, savvy managers can become more alert to tell-tale symptoms of conflict, learning to identify underlying concerns and to respond quickly. Early intervention is the best strategy and training is one of the most effective ways to facilitate this."

ACDC offers a wide range of conflict resolution, complaint handling, mediation and professional development training. Sessions can be conducted in Sydney or customized for onsite delivery throughout Australia. www.disputescentre.com.au

*Copy supplied by ACDC