How to Address Conflict in the Workplace: An Employer’s Guide

  • Employer advice
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

A 2021 report found that workplace conflict costs Canadian businesses over two billion dollars a year.

Conflicts in the workplace can impact the mental health, productivity, and morale of your team. Employers can also face discrimination claims, a hostile work environment, employee turnover, and a negative brand image.

Those who build their workplace culture around certain best practices will be able to keep conflicts at bay. Here are some tips on how to address conflict in the workplace.

What is a workplace conflict?

Conflict in the workplace occurs when there are disagreements between colleagues, usually due to opposing ideas, interests, or beliefs. When arguments become unprofessional or unlawful, it’s necessary to deal with them as quickly as possible.

What are some common types of conflicts that occur in the workplace?

Some common causes of conflict include lack of communication, opposing opinions, lack of cooperation, and poor quality of work. While some are similar in nature, there are distinct types of conflicts in the workplace.

The most common type of conflict is ‘personality conflict’. These are conflicts that occur when individuals cannot reach an agreement due to a clash in personality. To minimize personality conflicts, employers should encourage staff to listen and empathize with differing opinions and views.

‘Interdependency conflicts’ arise when there are miscommunications within departments. When different areas work together, communication can become lost or distorted through channels. To reduce these instances, employees should work on creating clear communication.

‘Preferential conflicts’ are a type of conflict that occurs when people have different preferences for working. To reduce this from happening, employees should recognize and accept each other’s differences.

And finally, ‘management conflict’ occurs when two people have conflicting management styles. To minimize these conflicts, it’s important that managers and employees work together to be accepting of differences.

What are the consequences of unresolved conflict in the workplace?

There are many ways in which workplace conflicts can have negative impacts on employees. Work-related health issues, staff turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism are likely to increase. Motivation and morale are likely to decrease.

How to resolve conflict in the workplace

When disagreements in the workplace escalate to become hostile, it is important to have a conflict resolution policy in place. Employers should learn best practices for resolving conflict in the workplace as soon as possible, and learn to spot the signs early.

Employers should enforce the rules on workplace conduct, behaviour, and performance. This can be achieved by developing and implementing disciplinary policies and being conscious of early signs of tension. Here are strategies for resolving conflict in the workplace:

Using mediation for workplace conflicts

Mediators are often brought on board as a third party to resolve conflicts among employees in the workplace. Meditation can help remedy issues of workplace discrimination, harassment, and contractual disputes.

It is often used when both parties need to continue professional communication but don’t feel comfortable doing so alone. It is also used when parties want to avoid using formal grievance procedures.

If an employee raises a work conflict, it is important that employers handle it through their grievance procedures. This is important for cases that involve unlawful activity, like discrimination or abuse. Failing to manage the conflict could lead to tribunal attendance and costly penalties.

Get expert guidance on workplace conflicts with Peninsula

Conflict is part of the everyday business culture, as all employees bring a unique set of traditions and values. It is crucial for employers that workplace conflict is managed and resolved as quickly as possible. If neglected, employees can raise claims of unfair and unlawful treatment.

Peninsula offers expert guidance on all aspects of employee management, including workplace conflicts and disputes.

To learn more about how our services can protect your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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