Can Your Business Handle Workplace Conflict?

Can your business handle workplace conflict?

Conflict in the workplace is always a fraught topic for employers, if it is not caught and resolved quickly enough then it can easily poison relations and productivity between employees. It can often be hard to realise that there is workplace conflict occurring at first as it can take many different forms from individual grievances to issues between co-workers.

In an article posted on the OPInfo Blog, we looked closer at some of the causes for conflict in the workplace and the number one reason for issues was found to be directly related to work, with bigger workloads or more working hours being reported by 31% of respondents in a study from Cascade HR.

While this is something that businesses can directly change to reduce the risk of conflict, what is perhaps harder to resolve are the interpersonal relation issues between colleagues that came in second at 27%.

No Faith In Ability To Resolve Workplace Conflict

Most businesses should have a policy in place with their HR department that will outline how to deal with workplace conflict. But what may perhaps be news to organisations is that their employees have little faith in their employer’s ability to resolve any workplace related issues or conflicts.

LegalZoom’s Workplace Insight Report for Business 2018 reported that only 26% of workers had enough faith in their employer to trust that they would take swift action to handle any issues or scandals.

This should be taken seriously by businesses as conflict can often be a reason for decreasing productivity in a workplace and in extreme circumstances, for employees leaving. Indeed, 15% of workers admitted that they had left a job because of issues in their workplace, which can leave employers with the risk of losing valuable workers because of problems that are left unresolved.

Businesses Need To Ensure Their Employees Trust Their Policies

It is understandable that employees will expect their workplace to be able to both handle and resolve any issues that may happen. According to Acas, some of the ways that employers can help to prevent disputes in the first place by ensuring that managers are trained to handle any conversations with employees that may be considered difficult.

Along with this, both managers and employees must be aware that opinions must be respected and that individual feelings are important and should not be dismissed. This means that allowing people to be heard and focusing on general interests instead of negative issues such as positions or someone’s personality will help to have a more positive workplace.

There should also be clear discipline procedures in place for when dealing with conflict, though mediation should be included to try and resolve problems as smoothly as possible. This can include one to one conversations that often require both sensitivity and empathy.

The training of managers should be particularly important as LegalZoom’s report noted that 16% of workers avoided reporting any concerns due to fears of repercussions. But just because these employees are not reporting to managers does not mean that they are not taking their complaints elsewhere; 33% had found a co-worker to confide in while 9% had complained on social media which could have negative effects for both the employer and the worker in question.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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