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Dealing with conflict

FMJ reports on a new training programme that helps prepare front-line personnel manage conflict by providing simple strategies and universal guidance to manage interventions professionally and effectively

Earlier this month the government announced a series of measures to combat the rising tide of abuse and attacks on retail staff. Among the measures announced, the Home Office has pledged £55.5 million investment in facial recognition technologies and plans are now afoot to make assaults on shopworkers a standalone criminal offence.

Front-line facilities management people may sympathise with the plight of retailers. Unfortunately, many are no strangers to the sorts of incidences of conflict and violence that have exploded on Britain’s high streets of late. From hospitals and shopping centres to restaurants and office buildings, nowhere seems to be immune to the challenge of coming into conflict these days.


One organisation that is helping the facilities management industry to fight back is People 1st international. The customer service training experts, who are perhaps best known for the WorldHost Principles of Customer Service training, has decided to act and help equip customer facing staff with the skills and competencies to de-escalate potential conflict situations.

Last month they launched the WorldHost Dealing with Conflict training following an extensive pilot across the UK and Ireland.

Explaining why People 1st International deemed it necessary to introduce this training for firms their Executive Director, Jane Rexworthy said: “It is regrettable that the growing trend of increased customer hostility towards customer-facing staff has meant that the ability to effectively resolve conflicts has become an all but essential skill.

“Reflective of the fact, in our most recent survey of 250 retail and hospitality businesses, the ability to resolve conflict was identified as one of the top in-demand skills by employers, meaning that training to help employees deal with potential conflict is paramount.”


The training programme is designed to enable customer-facing staff to turn negative and potentially dangerous interactions into positive ones, and has been delivered to a range of companies from security firms to community sports organisations so far.

Manguard Plus was one of the companies that piloted the programme earlier this year, with a session delivered to the security team at the offices of Workday – a global software company – located in Dublin.

“Having reviewed the content in advance of the training I was very impressed with the holistic approach WorldHost has taken to addressing the complex topic of conflict management,” said Finbarr McCarthy, Director EMEA Safety & Security GWS at Workday.

“The team thoroughly enjoyed the training session, specifically the opportunity to engage and share experiences, with feedback from the group being very positive.

“The WorldHost products provided to Workday’s security team by Manguard Plus has greatly enhanced the skills and awareness of the team which is evident in the positive feedback received from internal customers since training has commenced. I look forward to expanding these training programmes across the wider front-of-house teams at Workday.”


The one-day face-to-face programme helped to equipped staff with knowledge and awareness to recognise the signs of anger as well as receiving a grounding in appropriate language and actions for conflict situations to help minimise incidents of attacks and abuse.

“Through the training, I learnt about the different tools to support dealing with and deescalating angry and abusive customers,” said one of the training participants that took part in the pilot.

“It reinforced the importance of situation awareness and made me think about my own reactions and responses. Every element of the programme was relevant to my job role and the situations I can encounter. I’d recommend the programme to others,” they continued.

As an organisation that works across national borders and across socio-economic and cultural boundaries, the People 1st International WorldHost Dealing with Conflict Training Programme is designed and intended for universal delivery in a variety of roles in a variety of contexts.

Garry Bergin is an experienced trainer, who specialises in mentoring and upskilling in-house security teams.

“Since implementing this programme, we have observed a notable improvement in client interactions and a positive shift in our organisation’s service quality. I highly recommend the WorldHost programme for any entity seeking to elevate their customer service standards and manage conflicts with professionalism and ease.”

The new training programme is just one example of how the industry is taking the initiative and fighting back against the abuse front-of-house, security and other customer-facing staff. Industry bodies and insiders will therefore be hopeful that interventions such as these will help to prevent the abuse of staff reaching the scale of that witnessed on the high street.

About Sarah OBeirne

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