Print Print

Workplace Conflicts Are On the Rise: Here's How to Deal


Research shows that 85 percent of employees say that they experience workplace conflict, with over 2 hours a week being spent on navigating workplace drama. Workplace conflict is not just stressful and unpleasant, it can have a major impact on employee productivity. Indeed, conflicts in the workplace cost companies about $359 billion dollars in paid hours.


Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, an employment solutions firm with locations across the country, says:


“In today’s culture, employees aren’t just together when they’re literally on the job: They’re together all the time thanks to technology like Skype, WhatsApp, Slack and other coworker communication apps. Not to mention, our current political climate is so divisive right now, and social media only further encourages arguments and discord among your staff.”


Wilson, who has worked directly with many clients who have required assistance managing conflict within their workplaces, says that research shows that workplace conflict is on the rise. “From personality clashes to overwork to poor management, workplace conflict is inevitable and it’s actually getting worse,” he says.


So how can employers be proactive about workplace conflict?


“In some cases, minor workplace conflict can resolve itself. For example, if you have two trusted, long-time employees who get into a verbal dustup during a meeting, you might feel confident that they just need some time to cool off, and then they can work it out without managerial support,” says Wilson. “But, time is really of essence when it comes to workplace conflict. Don’t turn a blind eye to problems and hope that they don’t boil over, because many times, they will do just that.”


To manage conflict, Wilson says there are two approaches a boss or supervisor can take.


“If the conflict is minor or not deeply personal, just a simple disagreement over work responsibilities, then you can call both employees into your office and try to hash it out as a team, preferably with a non-biased mediator,” says Wilson. “But, if the situation involves allegations of workplace bullying, threats of violence or harassment, or even potential lawsuits, then you should talk to your employees separately and do so in a neutral location.”


And remember, says Wilson, workplace conflict does not just impact the involved parties.


“Many employees say that workplace conflict can cause them extreme stress, even if they are just witnessing the arguments and insults,” says Wilson. “It might be a good idea to look into mental health initiatives for your staff or even instituting new training to help remind employees how to handle conflict.”