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Productive workplace relationships project

Evaluating the impact on engagement and productivity of 'conflict competence' and other core management skills

As part of an ESRC call entitled 'Transforming productivity via management practices and employee engagement', the Forum is partnering with Sheffield University Management School on a three-year funded project worth £600k to evaluate the impact on employee engagement and productivity of 'conflict competence' and other core management practices in both private and public sectors, and to develop training interventions that can be replicated in a wide range of organisational contexts. See opposite for key definitions.


Why conflict competence?

The Forum views management’s primary contribution in knowledge-based businesses as being to build teams and foster teamwork. Conflict between two or more team members usually results in poor team performance and therefore a multiplier reduction in employee engagement by all team members and also by others who come in contact with the dysfunctional team. A project to develop training tools that can help management to avert and/or resolve team conflict makes a lot of sense.


Who's behind the project?

Senior researchers from Sheffield, Plymouth and Westminster business schools, partnering with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Forum. The project is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).   


Why is Government funding the project?

Although it is a truism that engaged and motivated managers and employees are more innovative and productive, there is still a dearth of academic knowledge over how individual managers, employees, firms, regions and national policy can support, diffuse and capitalise on the factors that drive effective management and employee engagement practices. Recent research shows that:

  • Moving the quality of a firm’s management practice from the bottom decile to ‘average’ can deliver a 19% increase in productivity - Office for National Statistics (ONS) 
  • Better management practices are associated with higher profits, faster annual growth and higher productivity - Bloom, Van Reenen and Sadun


 Other funded projects in the same ESRC call

  • Productivity from below: To strengthen management practices in micro-businesses (one to nine employees) through designing and implementing scalable policies that boost productivity (Aston)
  • Trends in management practices: To explore the causes and consequences of variation in management practices across UK businesses, and identify practical policy lessons for improving productivity. (ESCoE and NIESR)
  • Health and wellbeing: To identify combinations of workplace health and wellbeing practices that reliably improve worker health, wellbeing, engagement and performance – and deliver the best ROI. (Norwich)
  • Workplace innovation: To explore how workplace and job design practices shape employee engagement, capacity to innovate and wellbeing. (Strathclyde)