Standard D13 Explained

Why is it essential for organizations to have a formal process to manage workplace conflicts? Workplace conflicts arise in all organizations, and having a formal process in place helps employees resolve emerging conflicts quickly before they escalate into larger problems.1 Conflict management processes that allow employees to go beyond their immediate supervisor boost employee morale and avoid the losses that can be incurred if conflicts are not addressed in a timely manner.2

Without a formal process to manage workplace conflicts, issues can lead to employee dissatisfaction, loss of productivity, a decrease in quality of work or service to clients, increased stress and employee turnover, and/or litigation against your organization.3 Workplace conflicts pose additional risks to organizations that depend on volunteers, as volunteers often have many commitments and are unwilling to tolerate a tense environment.4

What should a conflict resolution policy include? Conflict resolution policies outline the steps that should be taken to resolve a conflict and may provide for mediation in the case that the problem cannot be resolved by affected employees directly.1 Conflict resolution policies may institute a formal open door policy in which employees can report emerging issues, or a formal complaint process.1 In addition, conflict resolution policies should always include a statement to the effect that employees are protected against retaliation as a result of using the conflict resolution process.2


From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section D: Staff Management,"  Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.

  1. HR Management Standards: Second Edition,” HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, 2011.
  2. Sample Policies on Common HR Topics: Conflict Resolution,” HR Policies & Employment Legislation, HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector.
  3. Conflict at Work,” Workplaces That Work in the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector’s HR Toolkit.
  4. “How to Effectively Manage Conflict,” Jack Shand, Charity Village, December 5th 2011.


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