Nearly one in seven HR staff have felt physically threatened at work

Nearly one in seven HR staff has felt physically threatened at work highlighting growing concerns about the impact of disputes in the workplace, new research shows. 

The nationwide study from MetLife Employee Benefits found 47 per cent of HR departments have seen an increase in the number of disputes among staff over the past two years as stress in the workplace became a major concern. Around 56 per cent of HR departments say stress has increased in their organisation.

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Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director of MetLife UK, said: “Nobody should be getting physically threatened over work disputes and it is shocking that so many HR staff have been concerned about it.

“Disputes in the workplace may be inevitable to some extent and the research demonstrates they take up a lot of HR time with senior management just as prone to falling out as the staff they are managing.

“Stress in the workplace can be detrimental to the mental and physical health of employees, as well as workplace productivity. Organisations should seek to find ways which help address the rising levels of stress in the workplace and reduce the fallout of colleagues. 

“By adopting a range of relatively low cost solutions including conducting a stress audit, offering line managers support and resilience training as well as making use of the range of health and wellness benefits on offer, organisations help create a healthy working environment for staff to build their resilience and reduce incidences of stress occurring.”

Disputes among staff are not confined to employees – 26 per cent of HR departments say they have had to mediate in fall-outs between senior management while 27 per cent have had to deal with bust-ups among employees.

MetLife Employee Benefits believes this research highlights the growing burden on HR departments, as they are now having to deal with a wider range of issues. This underlines the need for organisations to focus on training and support for staff to help them cope with stress.

The study shows requests for flexible working have been the biggest issue for HR departments in the past two years – 62 per cent have dealt requests for flexible working slightly ahead of 57 per cent who have dealt with pay rise requests.

MetLife works with a range of employers and partners to increase awareness of organisational resilience and training to help overcome negative feelings at work and has a partnership with Maudsley Learning as part of an ongoing programme focusing on stress and mental health.

It provides a wealth of health and wellbeing information and other support services to employers and their staff via its group income protection policy, ProActive Protection, including support to help alleviate stress and build resilience. The Wellbeing Hub includes a dedicated area for managers to help them to support employees.

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