Research perspectives

£28.5 billion – the cost of workplace conflict

A recent report by Acas  has found that the cost of workplace conflict to UK organisations is in the region of £28.5 billion annually. The research estimates that close to 10 million people experience conflict at work each year, with more than half reporting stress, anxiety or depression as a result. It is also estimated just under 900,000 took time off work, nearly half a million resigned and over 300,000 employees were dismissed.


These estimates include the costs of resignation, absence and reduced productivity, together with the cost incurred in attempting to resolve issues through informal discussion (such as mediation) and more formalised mechanisms including disciplinary and grievance procedures. Also included are the costs resulting from Acas early conciliation and employment tribunal claims.

It is worth noting that where conflict resulted in the application of formal procedures, costs were more than three times those associated with informal resolution. However, the highest costs came with the ending of the employment relationship, either through resignation or dismissal.


The sources for the research pre-date the Covid lockdown in March 2020, so the figures are not distorted by effects of the pandemic.


Steve Hodder, Director at B3sixty and former Acas national conciliator, pointed to the various ways in which these costs could be significantly reduced. “In addition to using trained and experienced mediators, the importance of good, well-understood procedures together with the prompt, professional investigation of disciplinary and grievance issues should not be underestimated”.