As many as one in four workers (25%) in the north of England have experienced conflict at work over the past year, with most choosing not to report incidents such as verbal abuse and harassment, according to the latest CIPD Good Work Index.

The research also reveals that victims of workplace conflict suffer more from poor mental health and a lack of trust and confidence in management.
In response, the CIPD is calling for employers to focus on management training to deal with conflict effectively, and to address the underlying causes, such as poor management practices and excessive workloads.

The CIPD’s Good Work Index – which surveyed close to 900 workers in the north of England - provides an annual benchmark of good work. It measures a wide range of job quality aspects, including the day-to-day experiences of workers and the impact of work on health and wellbeing.

Among the findings of workers who had experienced conflict at work, only a quarter (25%) felt that work impacts their mental health positively, compared to 40% of those who hadn’t experienced any conflict.

Further findings reveal victims of workplace conflict have a stark lack of trust in management to keep them informed and allow them to influence decisions and are more likely to feel like they are not paid fairly, compared to other colleagues.

  • Over a third (37%) said they trusted senior leaders in their organisation to act with integrity, compared with 61% of those who did not experience any conflict at work.
  • A third (33%) felt managers responded to suggestions from employees, compared to 49% of workers who had not experienced conflict at work.
  • 28% felt that managers allow employees to influence final decisions, compared to 41% of staff that had not suffered workplace conflict
  • 37% felt they got paid fairly, compared to 55% of workers who had not experienced conflict at work.

Jake Young, research associate at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented:

“Too many line managers do not receive any people management training, so they lack the skills and knowledge to support their staff effectively and identify and manage any conflict or problems that arise. This is having a detrimental effect on the health of workers and their trust in management.

“It’s important that managers can address the underlying causes of conflict, such as excessive workloads and poor management practices, and put measures in place to support staff and reduce the likelihood of conflict occurring again.”

The research revealed the most common approach to address conflict was to let it go (42%), followed by having a discussion with a manager or HR (31%) and informal discussions, either with someone outside work such as family or friends (23%).

Jake adds:

“Our findings suggest a lack of confidence in senior staff to address conflict constructively. Managers and senior leaders must ensure they encourage open and supportive work environments, where employees feel they have a voice and line managers can have difficult conversations, through effective training.” 

Read the report

Notes to editors

  • This survey report is based on the seventh annual UK Working Lives survey conducted in 2024. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc and analysis was conducted by CIPD. Total sample size was 894 adults in the north of England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th January and 15th February 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK working adults (aged 18+).

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