After nearly a year and a half of restrictions things are starting to look up, pubs returning to normal service, retailers operating at full capacity, and restaurants, theatres and nightclubs all returning to do what they do best.

Many people are excited about this prospect and can’t wait to get back to some sort of familiar reality, others though, may be experiencing high levels of anxiety about reopening and restrictions being removed.  This anxiety can be present in both our customers and our colleagues and could prove to be a factor in increased workplace conflict.

With social distancing being dispensed with and the wearing of masks potentially becoming optional, we are inevitably going to see a change in recent behaviours.  Has people’s perception of personal space changed throughout the pandemic?  Whereas previously someone standing next to you in a queue to pay for shopping or squeezing in next to you at a bar may not have felt intimidating, it could now be a trigger for frustration and anxiety. Individuals may no longer be used to It or may feel concerned about their safety due to Covid-19. 

So, from an employer’s point of view, is it a foreseeable risk that there will be an increase in conflict due to higher levels of frustration, greater numbers of people and the removal of restrictions?

If the answer is yes, then we have a duty of care to all our employees to make sure they have received relevant instruction and training to be able to do their job safely.  We must also assess the risk of this conflict escalating to workplace violence (someone being abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work) and take relevant steps to mitigate this risk.

One of the most effective ways to help our colleagues is to give them the knowledge and skills required to help them recognise when conflict may occur, make them aware of proactive methods to prevent conflict and show them how to defuse and deescalate situations at the earliest opportunity.  Conflict is something we deal with daily in our lives, and the techniques learnt on these courses are great life skills that don’t just apply in the workplace.

If you work in any customer facing environment then the risk of workplace violence needs to be taken seriously, if you would like any advice on training your staff, please feel free to contact us here at Prosec Training and Consultancy and we’ll be happy to help.