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Conflict Management and Preventing Toxic Workplaces

Workplace conflict is growing in 2024 - how can businesses prevent it?

Date: Tuesday, 24th September '24

Time: 09:30 - 13:30

Cost per attendee: £275 + VAT per attendee 

Toxic and conflict-filled workplaces drive employees away. One in three UK workers have left a toxic workplace, while a staggering 83% of our respondents reported having experienced negative workplace behaviours.

Alongside an already heavy workload, HR managers need to manage and deescalate workplace conflict, as well as manage a more disparate and volatile workforce. Most are ill-equipped to tackle the issue and lack the basic skills and experience to deal with these situations.

Unchecked aggressive workplace behaviours lead to low morale, industrial tribunals, absenteeism, high staff turnover and negative organisational reputation.

Avoiding difficult conversations will destroy the integrity and credibility of HR managers; listening and empathy need to be learned and practiced. This packed day will offer several chances to participate in role play in bespoke scenarios that will give you the confidence to proactively handle difficult workplace situations, boost morale and employee wellbeing and reduce staff turnover.

Learning objectives

Featuring expert trainers, our practical and hands-on training will run under the Chatham House rule to maximise confidentiality and examine:

  • What causes a toxic, conflict-filled workplace?
  • A resolution toolkit and the opportunity to practice different techniques in the afternoon scenario sessions
  • The anatomy of conflict: psychology and physiology of conflict: what kicks in and why
  • What needs to be in your policy, how to communicate and implement it

Who should attend? 

Delegates are invited from all sectors, especially those managing or dealing with volatile clients, or in industries prone to industrial action or activism that can result in challenging, confrontational and hostile behaviour.

Platform: Zoom - An encrypted zoom platform with password access: Click here for further information and to test access 

Hear from


Introduction and learning outcomes

Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith

Director of Research
Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI)

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Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI) logo

Elizabeth Smith

Director of Research , Business Forums International Ltd. (BFI)

Elizabeth is director of research and a founding co-director at Business Forums International. She is responsible for all programme content and writing, and researches current areas of interest for senior HR professionals in large organisations. BFI is the UK’s leading HR risk specialist conference and training provider, delivering key and timely information to over 3,000 delegates a year both through public and in-house training courses. Before founding BFI in 1996, Elizabeth specialised in researching corporate financial programmes in Asia and the Middle East, based in Dubai. She also worked in advertising and publishing in the Middle East and London. Elizabeth was educated in the West Indies, Saudi Arabia and Belgium before reading Modern Languages at Durham University. She is currently developing an online training course for line managers to raise awareness of menopause symptoms and ways that employers can work to make their workplaces more inclusive.

Working in small groups, delegates will examine and brainstorm what makes a workplace culture toxic, examining possible causes and indicators as well as what happens when it’s not addressed.  Groups will also identify specific conflict causes and manifestations and draw up a list of issues to address in role plays later in the day.

Understanding workplace conflict and why it must be addressed

Philippa Brown

Philippa Brown

Conflict Insights

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Conflict Insights logo

Philippa Brown

Director , Conflict Insights

A CEDR-accredited mediator, Pip founded Conflict Insights to reduce the harm from conflicts on individuals and organisations, both internationally and at home. Pip provides expertise to a range of clients including the United Nations, UK government, European Union, development agencies and think-tanks. She routinely receives excellent feedback from clients for delivering strong results and for her collaborative, empathetic approach, building and enhancing relationships that have become fractious and dysfunctional in many conflict-affected teams. Pip uses the experience and skills she developed working in international conflict environments to reduce the negative effects of conflicts closer to home. She offers mediation, conflict coaching and training to businesses, public sector organisations and multilateral bodies. Pip works as a workplace mediator and trainer for UK Mediation and TCM – both leading resolution consultancies. Pip is also a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Mediator for Collis Mediation Ltd – working with families and Local Authorities to reach agreements over the support to children and young people with SEND. Pip is practical, calm and incisive. She works flexibly to create a problem-solving and transformational framework for parties to achieve a result that each is happy with. Pip has a track record of collaboratively supporting a wide range of stakeholders and clients at all levels, building rapport in a very natural way to understand their concerns and working through to a positive conclusion. She is often praised for her ‘calm authority’, which she uses effectively to maintain an effective environment for constructive discussions.

  • Quantifying the costs of not tackling the issue: from silent quitting to negative press
  • Which conflicts can be avoided 
  • The conflict curve and identifying opportunities to engage
  • Physical responses to conflict: understanding what’s happening and how to manage our emotions

Initial indicators of challenging behaviour and common scenarios

  • Tips for recognising toxic behaviours: gossip, poor boundaries, negative team dynamics, aggression, bullying, disrespect and intolerance
  • Workplace conflict situations
  • Media platforms and how they can contribute to workplace conflict
  • Changing negative team dynamics 
  • Choosing our response: why and when to intervene?

Conflict management/resolution toolkit: essential skills and why

  • Key skills to respond to conflict
    - Empathy
    - Active listening
    - Non-violent Communication

Comfort break

Skills practice, debrief and learning points

  • What went well?
  • Where are the challenges?
  • What will you do differently?

Conflict management and resolution toolkit; frameworks for action and addressing toxic behaviours

  • Facilitated conversations
  • Mediation
  • Team facilitation
  • Employee engagement 
  • Giving employees a voice to talk about toxic culture, conflict and bullying
  • Formulating, communicating and implementing policy

Role play - part 1

Debrief and learning points

  • What went well?
  • Where are the challenges?
  • What will you do differently?

Comfort break

Role play – part 2

Debrief and learning points

  • What went well?
  • Where are the challenges?
  • What will you do differently?

Putting your skills and frameworks into practice

  • Challenges 
    - Resistance to change
    - Denial of the problem 
    - Lack of desire to engage
    - What are the options when the relationships have already broken down?
  • What are your options when negative behaviours come from colleagues more senior to HR?
  • Redundancy and restructuring: what pro-active approaches can HR take and how to effectively apply them
  • Managing union relationships in times of conflict 
  • Boundaries between management and HR: ensuring all parties have appropriate training and support
  • What management training do you need to promote tolerance and respect and tackle conflicts? 

Wrap-up and final Q&A

  • Necessary skills for conflict management: a review

End of workshop


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