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Employers should prepare for post-recession ‘battlefield’

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While businessmen contemplate relaxing following the worst of the recession, a new discussion paper warns that life post credit-crunching may not be sweet and serene as once predicted.

Riding out the Storm: Managing Conflict in a Recession and Beyond, published by conciliation body Acas, predicts how workplace conflicts could become a common feature as the financial markets try and regain their footing.

According to the paper, inevitable culls in the public sector, once seen as a “recession-free zone”, will be the first hint of escalating conflicts. Simultaneously, growing arguments over pensions in the public and private sector will further fuel the problems, as employers seek to close and amend schemes for existing and future employees.

“As the private sector deals with the impact of the recession on its workforce, the public sector is also preparing for significant cuts,” warned Acas Chief Conciliator, Peter Harwood.

“It is essential that employers, managers, and trade union representatives improve communication and engagement, so that potential issues that may cause conflict are aired and listened to and early action taken.”

The use of technology such as emails, text messaging and social networking sites has enabled demonstrators to organise rapidly amongst the workforce and the local community. The prolonged problems of British Airways and National Rail, not to mention ‘hostile’ takeovers of several national institutions, such as Cadbury’s, have also seen staff relationships plummet in recent months.

Acas advises that this type of discontent can “fester” in the workplace, bringing higher absence rates, increased staff turnover, dangers to health and wellbeing and all to the detriment of company finances.

If these problems are not dealt with, the lingering effects of a grueling recession could haunt businesses for the foreseeable future. Acas is recommending that all managers take the utmost care to ensure additional problems do not rear their heads during a time for economic regrouping.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

April 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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