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A CBI report in 2012 concluded that workplace conflict costs the UK economy something in the region of £33billion a year. It estimated that 370 million workdays are lost as a result of conflict and approximately 20% of leadership time is spent dealing with it, and this doesn't mean resolving it.

Whilst it's hard for small business owners to grasp figures of this magnitude, most of us can see examples of it every day and can imagine how the cost escalates exponentially.

Take, for example, a minor dispute between two members of staff in your own organisation. It begins with feathers being ruffled because one isn't perceived by the other to be 'pulling her weight'. She often takes Mondays off (and here we begin to see how the '370 million days' from the CBI report starts to build) and her colleague has to take up the slack when she's not there. Tension builds and work starts to suffer - ' why should I work hard when she doesn't care?', 'why should I correct the mistakes she's made?'. And then it becomes an issue that has to be discussed at management meetings because it's been noticed. Soon it appears on the agenda at every meeting and takes up valuable time that should be spent discussing the finances of the company.

And before long the tension has built to such an extent at it affects other members of staff and he atmosphere's so bad that others take the occasional Monday off too.

And so it goes on until someone makes a formal complaint, lodges a grievance and the HR manager is called in to conduct a formal investigation. In a small organisation the conflict permeates all levels so that now everyone has to be interviewed and as well as the disproportionate cost, the damage to the business is incalculable.

Sound familiar? Of course it does - those CBI statistics come from somewhere.

What if you could save your organisation that 20% of leadership time that could be used instead on developing new products or focussing on increasing profits?

What if you could avoid the number of lost work days and the cost of paying lawyers or of going to an employment tribunal?

The good news is that you can - there's a better way - a way to avoid the cost and the damage and the drain on leadership time. The key is to understand the threat to your organisation from workplace conflict and to take a proactive approach. At The better Way we recommend training to prevent disputes where possible - training people from senior management level down. We recognise, of course, that it's not always preventable, so we also recommend early intervention when conflict does arise and our training provides organisations with the means to intervene with facilitation and mediation solutions before the conflict takes root. And if it's beyond that, we provide mediation services that are affordable and effective at helping parties find solutions that are practical and workable.

We recommend that organisations embed mediation practices into their HR policies and contracts so that you have a plan for prevention, early intervention and cost-effective resolution of conflict.

Seems obvious - doesn't it?

For more information check our website www.thebetterwayto.com and contact us for help to transform the way your business deals with disputes.