NHS Trust Takes Unique Approach to Managing Workplace Conflict

One of the UK’s largest and most successful NHS trusts, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH), as part of their strategic approach to address bullying and harassment, is implementing an innovative new approach to managing workplace conflict with the support of one of the UK’s leading mediation and conflict management providers, Consensio.

UCLH is a complex NHS trust which employs over 8000 staff across its five hospital sites in central London. With a workforce of this size and complexity, operating in such a high pressure and intense environment, it is no surprise that the Trust is keen to ensure that it effectively manages potential workplace conflict issues before they escalate.

Jacqui Finnigan, Psychologist and Lead Clinician at UCLH’s Staff Psychological & Welfare Service, is leading this progressive approach to managing workplace conflict. “We already have an existing internal mediation service which functions very well,” explained Jacqui. “However, we realised that to be as effective as possible and to offer our employees the most supportive and nurturing working environment, it would be best if we could nip conflict in the bud before it reaches the formal grievance stage 

“With that in mind,” continued Jacqui, “UCLH has partnered with Consensio to offer internal training of our senior managers across the organisation. The two-day course equips managers with the conflict resolution skills to facilitate conversations with members of their teams quickly, informally and with confidence. The goal of the training is to transform the culture of the organisation into one where conflict is not avoided, but rather dealt with quickly and informally by line managers to increase employee wellbeing and effectiveness across the organisation.” The training runs alongside the successful campaign ‘Where do you draw the line?’ which invites staff to share their views on what constitutes bullying and harassment.

Faith Thornhill, Staff Partners Chair, who attended the training said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the two day ‘Effective conflict resolution using a mediated approach’ skills training for managers and I arrived thinking that perhaps it would be just ‘more of the same?’ But no, the training far exceeded my expectations and I left the training with absolute confidence that it had given me, and will give our Trust managers, the skills they need to manage conflict within their teams at an early stage before the situation escalated to a point where formal mediation becomes necessary.”

Alexandra Efthymiades, a director at Consensio, is understandably delighted with the company’s appointment to manage the programme at UCLH and is keen to highlight the wider implications for the sector. “This is such an enlightened new approach to managing conflict within an NHS environment that it has sparked interest from the academic research community in evaluating the programme’s effectiveness,” she explained. “Two well-known researchers in the field are going to be evaluating the effectiveness of this intervention and research results will help inform future approaches to management training and the importance of conflict resolution to organisations.”

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