The $100+ Billion Opportunity: How Mediators Can Help Tackle the Immense Cost of Workplace Conflict

mediation can help resolve workplace conflicts and reduce costsOne of ADR Notable’s users in Northern Ireland recently brought an eye-opening article to our attention. Published in August 2023 by the Labour Relations Agency of Northern Ireland, it reports that the total annual cost of workplace conflict to employers in that country works out, on average, to £1,085 per employee.

Now, let’s assume that the dynamics are comparable in the United States. Using full-time, non-farm employment numbers and currency exchange rates for 2019 (the year in which the Northern Ireland survey data was collected) we end up with a very rough extrapolation of a staggering $181.7 billion, plus the stress and emotional costs.  (The oft-cited CPP Global Human Capital Report from 2008 factors in the cost of lost productivity and their estimate was an even higher $359 billion!)

The authors are Professors Richard Saundry and Peter Urwin of the Centre for Employment Research at the University of Westminster.  You can find the full publication on the Labour Relations Agency site, here.

That led us to two important takeaways for ADR Notable users:

#1.  Are you looking to grow or diversify your practice?  We can think of 181 billion reasons that workplace conflict management makes sense. 

The LRA paper presents the cost of various scenarios for dealing (or not dealing) with conflict in the workplace. The key point for dispute resolution professionals is that scenarios that include mediation have a higher level of resolution and lower overall cost. And it’s no surprise that the most expensive scenarios are those that result in either resignations and/or litigation.

Whether you contract your services as an independent mediator to organizations or want to train in-house line managers to be peer mediators, you may need some additional training in this area.  We are very proud to have some first-rate ADR Notable Training Partners who specialize in this area.  You will find the list at

Whichever path you take, the case for helping organizations establish a culture that supports resolving conflicts constructively is clear:

🔑 Investing in improving the “conflict competence” of line managers can yield a significant return on investment. Equipping managers with the skills to identify and address conflicts early can prevent escalation and minimize costly consequences. 

When employees feel comfortable coming forward, they do so earlier resulting in lower financial and emotional costs. As the authors of the paper conclude, “Early and effective managerial intervention can avoid unnecessary resignations, and issues with conduct and performance are less likely to escalate to the point of dismissal.” 

#2.  It’s not just about the training.

The authors stress that companies have to provide not only training, but also space and time.

🔑“Investment in management training will be wasted if managers do not have a realistic opportunity to practice their new-found skills.”

And this is where ADR Notable can help.

Every Trainer with whom we’ve worked wants to do everything possible to make sure that their training is not wasted. The combination of excellent training and the ADR Notable platform leads to well-prepared, competent, and confident employee mediators.  First, their training materials will be embedded right in their workspace library, not stuffed in some binder in a drawer. Employee mediators then derive all the benefits from using an effective, confidential, easy-to-learn platform to track the issues of the dispute, schedule meetings, and work toward a documented list of agreed-upon next steps with the disputants.  Depending on the company’s policies, notes and documents can be maintained or digitally shredded.

Learn more about ADR Notable for workplace conflict management and then sign up for a demo to see for yourself how it works.

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