Conflict at work is both inevitable and challenging. It can be even more so at times like the present, with many staff working remotely and most doing so under pressure. Managing conflict – and doing so strategically – can potentially deliver real benefits in terms of fairness and productivity.

The following resources developed by our PrOPEL partners at the University of Sheffield explore these themes in more depth, emphasising the critical role of line manager capability and confidence in dealing with challenging situations. The first of these resources presents a framework for repositioning conflict management as a strategic priority, while the second documents the historical case of an NHS trust that was an early UK adopter of a conflict management system.

ACAS POLICY PAPER:—repositioning-conflict-management/pdf/Fairness__justice_and_capability_-_repositioning_conflict_management.pdf 

Written by a member of the Sheffield team, and drawing on a body of work undertaken for Acas over the last decade or so, this paper makes the case for conflict management. In particular, it examines how a more holistic and strategic approach of this type might build better work relationships, employee engagement and ultimately improve performance, and highlights line manager competence and notions of fairness and organisational justice as key building blocks in effecting such outcomes.


The paper provides a detailed account of the conflict management system at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust – one of the first examples in the UK. The study explores how the system was introduced and evolved, its impact, the enablers and inhibitors and, crucially, how line managers were trained in key skills conflict and conversation skills.

Richard Saundry Professor of HRM and Employment Relations at the University of Sheffield