Workplace conflict is a common issue faced by many organisations. It can arise from various of sources including differences in workplace cultures, values, beliefs and personalities. Conflict can also be caused by poor communication between departments or between employees themselves. In some cases, workplace conflicts may even stem from unresolved issues that have been lingering for months or years without resolution. About 85% of US employees experience conflict at some point at work, with a lower percentage experiencing it constantly. 

Regardless of the source, workplace conflict has the potential to cause significant disruption to an organisation’s operations and morale if not addressed properly. By implementing effective strategies such as recognising workplace conflicts early on, businesses can ensure that workplace conflicts are managed before they become serious problems.

Can workplace conflict slow down growth?

Workplace conflict can have a huge impact on the success and growth of any business. It can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and even workplace violence if not managed properly. Some conflict in the workplace is inevitable; however, businesses need to learn to identify it to prevent it from slowing down the growth of the company.

When left unchecked or unresolved for too long workplace conflicts could cause a variety of detrimental outcomes such as decreased motivation levels due to a lack of trust between colleagues or disagreements over tasks which may result in delays in completing projects or assignments. Hostile work environments caused by unresolved workplace issues are likely to lead to higher employee turnover rates which would consequently increase recruitment costs for employers while also having a negative effect on morale amongst existing staff members. It is important for companies to understand that workplace conflict does not always manifest itself through physical altercations but rather through passive-aggressive behaviours such as gossiping about colleagues behind their backs which could create an atmosphere of suspicion and resentment amongst team members.

Preventing workplace conflict

Workplace conflict needs to be taken seriously. Employees need to work together daily so the company is responsible for resolving issues quickly. Is there a way to prevent issues from arising in the first place? There are some strategies companies can use to reduce the possibility of conflict and hence reduce any disruptions in the workplace. These strategies include:

  • Developing trust and respect
  • Clearly outlining responsibilities
  • Encouraging open communication
  • Investing in team-building activities
  • Providing training

Developing trust and respect

Creating an environment of trust and respect in the workplace is essential for any organisation to thrive. A workplace where people feel respected, safe and valued is more likely to have employees that are happy, productive, and engaged with their work. This kind of workplace culture also encourages creativity and collaboration between teams which further enhances productivity. Unfortunately, sometimes workplace conflicts can arise due to differences in values or beliefs which can lead to a breakdown of trust if not addressed properly. To prevent this from happening companies must take steps to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect amongst colleagues.

One way organisations can create an environment of trust and respect is by encouraging employees to support one another and give constructive feedback. Supporting one another can include an employee stepping up to help another when they are struggling or staff showing appreciation for the work completed by a colleague.

It is crucial for managers and supervisors to be aware that different team members may require different approaches when handling conflict resolution depending on their individual personalities or working styles. This is why flexible approaches are always recommended as one strategy will not be applicable to everyone.

workplace conflict

Clearly outlining responsibilities

For workplace conflicts to be addressed successfully, it is important for companies to clearly define roles and responsibilities for each individual or team within the organisation. This will help ensure that everyone understands the scope of their job and how their actions might impact other people in the workplace. Having clear roles and responsibilities allows managers to delegate tasks efficiently, as well as quickly identify where each employee stands in relation to other members of the team. It also teaches departments not to overstep and create issues. For example, making it clear who is responsible for sales, marketing and accounting can prevent overlap and potential tension.

This helps create a sense of accountability amongst employees as they are more likely to take ownership of their assigned roles if they know exactly what is expected of them. In addition, having well-defined roles and responsibilities can make it easier for managers to provide feedback and constructive criticism when needed while also helping employees understand how their performance affects the overall success of the workplace.

By establishing expectations around workplace behaviour, companies can ensure that workplace conflicts are managed before they become serious problems. For instance, employers could set up policies regarding workplace etiquette such as no verbal outbursts during meetings. Additionally, these policies should include a disciplinary process in case rules are broken so that employees understand immediately that there will be consequences for engaging in inappropriate behaviour. Employers should provide guidance while being respectful and constructive in their conversations so that disagreements can be resolved amicably without damaging relationships between individuals or teams within the workplace.

Encouraging open communication

Encouraging open communication between employees is one of the most effective ways to prevent workplace conflict. Open communication creates a workplace culture where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions without fear of judgement or criticism from others. It also enables team members to collaborate more effectively and quickly identify areas for improvement in order to operate the business in a calm manner. Expressing ideas and opinions on tasks and projects freely and transparently creates a reliable environment where employees can feel heard and avoid unexpected scenarios.

If an employee is struggling because of the acts of another, they should be able to speak up and voice their concerns. Open communication heavily relies on honesty and willingness to work things out.

Investing in team-building activities

Investing in team building activities is an effective way to prevent workplace conflict and build relationships among colleagues. Team building activities such as group outings or workshops can help create a friendly workplace environment where staff can feel at ease. These activities can help foster a sense of belonging, problem solving and mutual respect within the workplace which will ultimately lead to better working relationships between employees. Investing in team building activities can also provide managers with valuable insights into how different team members handle workplace disputes and require different approaches depending on their individual personalities or working styles.

Team building activities are designed to promote teamwork while helping individuals understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses. These exercises often involve tasks that require multiple people working together towards a common goal such as solving puzzles or completing physical challenges like rock climbing walls or zip lines. By doing so, it allows colleagues to get outside of their comfort zones while learning new skills that could potentially be applied back in the workplace environment when handling difficult situations. Engaging in fun yet challenging tasks together can also help encourage open communication between employees.

Providing training

Providing workplace conflict resolution training to managers and supervisors is an important step in preventing workplace conflicts. These training sessions should be aimed at teaching managers and supervisors how to effectively handle workplace disputes in order to foster a workplace culture of respect and collaboration. These training programs should also equip managers and supervisors with the necessary skills to resolve workplace conflicts effectively and in a confidential manner. Workplace conflict resolution training should also provide managers and supervisors with strategies for addressing workplace issues such as how to communicate clearly and positively when discussing sensitive topics, how to recognise signs of potential conflict and how to intervene promptly when conflicts arise.

In terms of content, workplace conflict resolution trainings should cover a range of topics such as identifying the root causes of workplace conflicts, effective communication techniques for handling disagreements, active listening strategies for understanding others’ perspectives as well as developing problem-solving skills that can help

Employees should also be provided with training that prepares them with how to handle workplace conflict professionally and without further issues arising. Employees should know who to talk to when they have a problem and how to have conversations with their colleagues in an attempt to resolve the issue privately. Workplace conflict, especially between two people on different power levels can feel daunting, hence why training is crucial.

Please note

Workplace conflict is impossible to avoid. The workplace will face some type of issue that will need to be handled with promptly and carefully. In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to an investigation, usually when the parties involved have crossed boundaries.

Our customers choose Polonious to manage these scenarios as we can help them conduct their investigations faster, more efficiently, and most importantly – in a fair and transparent manner. We provide our clients with one-click graphical reports, optimal workload management and give them automatic case updates so they can focus on their core business tasks. Our system makes it easy for managers to follow up with issues of workplace conflict and everything can be stored online, in one place. If you want to learn more, reach out, we are happy to show you.