Conflict and Dispute in the Workplace on the Rise

Just last month Adare Human Resource Management launched their most recent HR Barometer Key Findings from a national pulse survey impacting 33,000 employees. In that our research found that almost 7 out of ten (69%) Organisations experienced workplace conflict in 2022, up from 46% in 2021 from our HR Barometer Series 6.1.

“Discipline” ranks as the main employee-related issue with one in two (52%) stating that it was an issue last year, up from 31% in 2021. This is not surprising given the impact of blended working practices as employees continue to re-integrate into more permanent ways of working.

Incidence of “Grievance” is also up from 29% in 2021 to 45% last year, which again can be seen as an impact from blended working practices. What is of paramount importance is that transparent communication pathways are enabled so that clarity of expectations and changes to working practices support the practice of blended working.

Some concerning findings relate to the significant increase in investigations having to take place with 41% of Organisations conducting formal investigations in 2022 in comparison to 18% the previous year. With the increase in investigations comes additional obligations on Employers to ensure that up to date policies and procedures are in place as well as compliant practices being applied when formal interventions are being implemented.

The Workplace Relations Commission recently published their Annual Report and with that comes some key insights into the number of complaints being processed through the mechanisms of the third party. They too have seen a significant increase in adjudications, citing that over the course of 2022, the number of hearings held, and decisions issued by the WRC Adjudication Service each increased by almost 30%.

So, while conflict and disputes are unavoidable in the workplace, understanding the causes of conflict and disputes among co-workers will help to resolve them. In the majority of situations, disagreements or misunderstandings can be dealt with swiftly and informally without any disruption to the business. Equipping managers with the skills needed to identify and address potential issues, will allow them to intervene early and prevent any escalation.

Having clear discipline and grievance policies and procedures in place provides the channels for work-related issues to be managed formally and fairly. While we’ve already acknowledged that it is very difficult to avoid workplace conflict, fostering a culture of openness, fairness and transparency will help establish a more harmonious work environment. Importantly ensuring your business has the necessary skillset in manging conflict and dispute is the foundation of compliant practices. As when a gap exists that is when the risks increase, and financial liability can ensue.


If your Organisation needs advice, support, or guidance in relation to compliance requirements or any HR issues, please check out our website or contact Adare Human Resource Management call (01) 561 3594 or email