Workplace conflict is unavoidable in any work environment. It can happen instantaneously and without warning. Not resolving conflict can also lead to massive disruptions in your workplace.
Workplace conflict can sometimes be hard to identify. It is important that you proactively address it in your business and have the policies and procedures in place so you can be prepared if you are faced with a conflict situation.
In this guide, we’ll explain what workplace conflict is, how to prevent it, and how to address it if it is prevalent in your business.
What is Workplace Conflict?
Workplace conflict is often a disagreement between employees. Employees will inevitably argue or have different opinions about a subject. However, when disagreements go too far, they may evolve into something worse. They can become unprofessional and end up in legal claims if not addressed properly.
What Causes Workplace Conflict?
Not all disputes between employees will be the same. Employees may have different opinions, beliefs, and interests. Workplace conflict examples may include:
- Lack of communication.
- Poor quality of work.
- Verbal or physical abuse.
- Lack of cooperation.
When workplace conflict arises, you must have safeguards in place to address it.
What are the Different Types of Conflict in the Workplace
There are various reasons why conflict arises in the workplace. Here are two examples of why conflict arises:
Conflict can arise because of two different personalities. When two people are working together, they may have different methods of completing the task. Each person must recognize the different working styles and viewpoints of each other to complete the task.
Doing this will improve the working relationships between your employees.
Management styles can cause workplace conflict. Some managers try to be more collaborative and empathize towards their team, while others are stricter and more direct. Management style should be balanced to maintain a productive workforce and not lead people to leave your company.
What are the Consequences of Workplace Conflict?
If you do not handle workplace conflict swiftly, it can have a negative impact on your employees.
Unresolved conflict may cause:
- Higher turnover of employees.
- Decreased motivation or morale.
- Increased absenteeism.
- Poisoned workplace culture.
Some occurrences of workplace conflict can turn into harassment if not addressed properly. If employees feel that they are harassed, they may quit and claim constructive dismissal against you. If the conflict was discriminatory, a human rights claim could be filed.
How to Deal with Workplace Conflict?
If you are faced with a situation of workplace conflict between employees, the conflict must be addressed productively. Managing conflict in the workplace can produce positive effects including building stronger relationships between employees.
Managing conflict in the workplace can also:
- Encourage open communication between employees.
- Deal with underlying issues.
- Align employees to reach the same goal.
- Resolve disagreements quickly.
If you do not manage conflict in the workplace effectively, it can have damaging results including:
- Damaged relationships between employees.
- Wasted time and resources.
- Creating a hostile environment.
- Focusing on blaming the other.
Whether it is a dispute between employees or a disagreement with completing tasks, you can easily implement conflict resolution strategies to help you resolve tension within your company.
Conflict Resolution Strategies for the Workplace
Conflict resolution in the workplace is a process that you should implement when finding a solution to a disagreement between employees.
Everyone involved should be working to resolve the conflict through communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills. You must resolve the conflict in a way that benefits everyone.
Here are a few workplace conflict resolution steps you can implement in your business:
Understanding the Conflict
You cannot resolve the conflict without understanding how it occurred first. Consider talking to each employee privately to understand their side of the story. This may also relieve each employee’s feelings towards the conflict.
By speaking to each employee, you may be able to find the best resolution that can assist the employees. You may even find that there was just a minor miscommunication that led to the conflict. Brainstorm Possible Resolutions
Once you understand the conflict and how it arose, you can help the employees brainstorm to find a solution. Remember, you are not the one giving the solution to them, you are there to assist them.
Everyone involved in the conflict should come up with a resolution that would best suit them. Once everyone details their best-case scenario, you may wish to combine these viewpoints to find a resolution.
You may also choose to consider a solution that has the employees meet in the middle. More than one possible resolution should be prepared in case others do not work.
Outline the Rules on Workplace Conduct and Behaviour
You must remind the employees that misconduct is prohibited in the workplace and that wrongful behaviour will not be tolerated.
Providing them with a fresh copy of your policies and practices may eliminate existing conflict and work to prevent it in the future. Once employees are aware of the compliance measures detailed in your company policies, they will be less likely to engage in workplace conflict going forward.
Use a Mediator
Mediation is where an impartial third party assists the disputing employees in resolving conflict using specialist communication and negotiation techniques.
The third party does not necessarily have to be someone outside your company; it can be a manager, supervisor, or human resources professional. If you choose someone in your company, they must not be biased toward either party.
How to Prevent Workplace Conflict
Workplace conflict is inevitable and exists in all workplaces. However, you should take preventative measures to reduce it.
For example, you should advise your workforce that if a conflict arises, they should make their manager aware. This will help resolve conflict early before it escalates.
When a complaint of workplace conflict does arise, you should not ignore it. You should create a form for employees to file if there is a complaint of workplace conflict. This will ensure that you have a record of the complaint and the employees who are involved.
Lastly, you should treat all employees equally and fair and remain neutral when dealing with workplace conflict.
Get Advice on Workplace Conflicts with BrightHR
Every employer should be equipped with the resources and knowledge to handle a situation of workplace conflict. You should have policies and procedures implemented to investigate and assist with resolving conflict.
Ignoring workplace conflict can be detrimental to your workforce and have the potential to result in lawsuits if not addressed.
If you need assistance with drafting workplace conflict policies or require the resources to handle workplace conflict, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.