How to resolve workplace conflict

Although it can sometimes seem impossible to avoid, no-one likes workplace conflict. Not only does it cause discomfort for everyone involved, and potentially to people who aren’t even directly involved, it can also lead to disciplinary measures and even job losses.

If your employees are becoming aggravated with you or other staff members, here are some ways to resolve workplace conflict.

What are the consequences of workplace conflict?

If your employees have a had a major disagreement with yourself or each other, this can not only lead to tension in the office and a drop in productivity, it can lead to employees quitting or being dismissed. This, in turn, can has serious consequences for morale and a high turnover of staff can be bad for the balance sheet – a study from Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and quantitative analysis company, estimates that replacing staff members can cost as much as £30,614 per employee. There are two main factors that make up this cost:

  • The Cost of Lost Output while a replacement employee gets up to speed
  • The Logistical Cost of recruiting and absorbing a new worker

Co-worker conflict is often cited among the main reasons why employees leave their job. To make sure your business doesn’t suffer such losses, here’s how resolve workplace conflict.

How to handle workplace conflict

Although  we may all want to avoid it, there are instances where workplace conflict is simply unavoidable, in which case you need to address it head on and try to sort it before escalates and becomes toxic – the sooner and more decisively you act, the simpler it will be to resolve.

When resolving conflict, it’s vital that you can empathise with the situation – the only way to get a real sense of the issue, and how to sort it out, is to get both sides of the story and put yourself in the position of the quarreling employees.

It’s also important that you stick to the facts of the matter and keep it completely impersonal – no matter how difficult it might be to avoid letting any personal bias or even ‘gut feeling’ help inform your decision, you simply can’t let your feelings get in the way – so stick purely to the facts and get accounts on the issue from as many different people as possible.

Once the issue is resolved, it’s then important to ensure that lessons are learned, not just by those involved, but by everyone right across the business.  On a personal level, you should focus on what you’d do differently next time, and it’s also worth sharing any lessons learned with the wider workforce, to help ensure that similar situations don’t arise in the future.

Conflict is sometime unavoidable, and not always a bad thing as it can help bring about changes that can make the workplace a better environment for everyone. If you do have to deal with workplace conflict, instead of focusing on the negatives, try to see it as an opportunity for positive change.
If you successfully resolve conflict in an efficient, fair and timely manner, you can use it to your advantage to keep a happier and more productive workforce. Conflict resolution also offers a good opportunity to communicate your core business values and reinforce positive employee relations.

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