Conflict management in the workplace within HR

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Conflict management in the workplace within HR

In a company, several factors can lead to conflicts. To be more concrete, it would not be a misnomer to say that the workplace is a nest of conflicts. Indeed, between interpersonal relationships, the dependence of a hierarchy, proximity to customers, divergence of points of view, and the stress of workload, it goes without saying that misunderstandings set in very quickly. It is the duty of HR to manage conflicts at work. Here is a short newsletter for you on how to manage conflicts in business.

Typology of conflicts in companies

The definition of the concept of conflict at work is not always explicitly well established. That is why to define it, the conflict between two individuals should be split in two. The first part concerns the object that opposes them. The second part concerns the link between the two parties. If this link is broken, that is when we will talk about conflict. Despite the implementation of a trusted platform for employee reviews, conflicts are numerous and are of several kinds.

Interpersonal conflicts

Still called personnel conflicts, they arise from motives directly related to oneself or others in the workplace. They therefore concern the environment of the persons concerned. It may be an antipathy or a misunderstanding. In most cases, it is simply a question of a competitive situation. Managing interpersonal conflicts at work requires good negotiation skills as a human resources officer.

Conflicts of position

Nicknamed hierarchical conflicts, they appear between the manager on the one hand and one or more employees on the other. In this case, either the manager questions the abilities or skills of the employee(s) concerned or vice versa. This can sometimes be perceived as harassment by either party.

Conflicts of interest

They are born when two parties cannot agree on their interests. Otherwise, when interests diverge. These are economic conflicts that arise when it is necessary to start negotiating financial or human resources. It is in this category that all kinds of claims are found.

Conflicts of ideas

Although it is recommended that each party contribute innovative and constructive ideas, this can very quickly escalate into a conflict situation when each party is willing and convinced that their ideas are the best. It will then want to impose them and its opinions on the opposing parties. But when both sides want to establish their influence and develop it, it will be called a power struggle.

Cases of conflict are not always limited to these four categories. To resolve conflicts in the workplace, it is therefore ideally necessary to take into account all the factors that come into play, otherwise, the social climate in the company will very quickly become unbearable for employees.

Anticipating problems

The basic rule in managing conflict at work is: “prevention is better than cure”. This principle is one of the HR issues that the company faces all its life. This is all the more true since HR must preserve social cohesion and the stability of interpersonal relationships in the company. When it comes to managing conflict at work, on the one hand, HR considers conflict to be a risk. In this sense, they must detect situations at risk for its emergence and minimize the occurrence. On the other hand, they must recognize a conflict situation early enough in order to put in place solutions for its resolution and accelerate the exit from the crisis.

By considering conflict as a risk, HR can methodically deal with it. To do this, they will launch actions to limit their appearance. This will be referred to as the development of a conflict prevention programme. But when they appear, procedures are launched to resolve each identified risk.

For the preservation of a quiet working environment, it is necessary to maintain and strengthen social dialogue, respecting everyone’s ideas and supporting local management. Initiatives to improve the quality of life at work must also be put in place. The training of employees and managers then becomes essential. This will be done through the various awareness-raising sessions in order to identify very early the beginnings of conflict situations. These sessions will of course be associated with the dissemination of notions on conflict management techniques in the workplace.

It is therefore important to set up social observatories. They will make it possible to keep watch for an early identification of conflicts in the crystallization phase in order to apply corrective measures.


HR takes responsibility for mediation. In doing so, they facilitate the resumption of dialogue while seeking to identify the sources of the problem and make them known to each party. They suggest solution trials for solving the problem. They are not required to demand concessions, especially when the objective is to weld a work team. However, they reserve the right to arbitrate and impose an outcome on the dispute.

All these steps are aimed at avoiding new conflicts and restoring communication between the parties to the conflict.


A conflict can evolve to the point of reaching the status of social conflict. This is when, for example, the number of employees concerned is high. In this situation, it requires the intervention of the company’s human resources department. They will be the pillars of the resolution. The conditions they will lead will be made in three main stages.

First, they will consult, after reading the situation. At this stage, HR works to fully understand the reasons behind the conflict as well as the nature of the claims. This will allow them to devise a method of negotiation.

Then, HR will move on to confrontation. Each party will present its arguments. The most important thing here will be the notification of points of agreement and disagreement. In doing so, the negotiating areas can easily be demarcated.

Finally, both sides will be able to emerge from the crisis through a realistic agreement. This is the conciliation stage. After solving the problem, it is ideal to launch an employee satisfaction survey to give you a chance to quickly detect possible pockets of tension. Feedback management in companies is the key to a good conflict management policy at work.

Disciplinary proceedings

All the steps presented above are part of the amicable management of conflicts in business. So, yes, sometimes none of them solve the problem and it becomes necessary to take disciplinary action. These can range from a simple warning to a disciplinary layoff. However, the person responsible for enforcing the sanction must ensure that the fault committed at the origin of the conflict and the sanction are fairly proportionate. Generally, sanctions are provided for in the internal regulations or collective agreement.


In the professional world, team stability is paramount and sometimes takes precedence over individuality. It may therefore happen that separating from an employee is a solution in case of conflict. Dismissal is seen as a disciplinary sanction, but also the ultimate resort in the management of conflicts at work. It becomes possible only when the culprits, whatever the means of recourse used, become impossible to maintain in the company. This is often the case in cases of serious professional misconduct. Among these we can mention the denigration of the company, cases of harassment, a desire to harm one’s employer or the company, all forms of threats and violence. Slander and insults could, depending on their severity, be included in this list.


What are the different types of conflicts that can arise in business, and how can they affect the social climate within the organization?

  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • (Hierarchical) position conflicts
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Conflicts of ideas

These conflicts can have a significant impact on the social climate by creating tensions and misunderstandings. Relationships between employees can deteriorate, leading to decreased productivity and an unharmonious working environment. Human resources managers must be attentive to detect these conflicts, prevent them and put in place management measures to maintain a healthy and peaceful climate.

How can HR managers effectively anticipate and manage conflict in the workplace, and what steps can they take to resolve conflict situations?

Human resources managers can anticipate conflicts by implementing prevention programs. They must:

  • Identify risky situations
  • Strengthen social dialogue
  • Improve quality of life at work

Training employees and managers on conflict management is essential. The establishment of social observatories makes it possible to detect conflicts in the crystallization phase in order to act quickly.

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