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Developing employees’ verbal conflict de-escalation skills to prevent bullying and harassment

Dr Samuel Farley, Leeds University Business School

The UK government has made ‘Good Work’ a priority in its Industrial Strategy. Good work involves creating healthy workplaces by ensuring that early conflict resolution occurs when things go wrong (Taylor Review). This in turn reduces the likelihood of conflict escalating into bullying and harassment.

The aim of this project is to develop a verbal conflict de-escalation workshop with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). ACAS are widely recognised as Britain’s leading authority on workplace relationships and specialise in conflict resolution at all organisational levels.

The workshop aims to improve employees’ abilities to initiate conversations that resolve conflict situations. It will be developed using conflict management theory, but rather that being an ‘off the shelf’ solution, the workshop will be designed such that procedures for having difficult conversations are co-produced with participating organisations.

Employees, organisations and society benefit when conflict is addressed early. When conflict becomes bullying, it impairs employee well-being, organisational productivity and damages society through its impact on medical costs, premature retirement and unemployment. By working with ACAS and its clients, this project aims to shape the way that employees approach conflict.

Dr Samuel Farley can be contacted by email: