By: Tess Worrell
In 2008, a study found that employees spent 2.8 hours per week coping with conflict. Translation–$359 billion in wages or 359 million work days. Added to this cost “25% of employees said that conflict led to sickness or absence from work, 10% reported that conflict led to project failure, and more than one third said conflict led to someone leaving the company. “The Real Cost of Workplace Conflict,” Entrepreneur. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/207196#. Employers who take action to deal with employee conflict save both time and money.
How can employers establish a workplace culture that reduces the elements that cause conflict and resolve those that still arise? Focus on two keys: employees’ security and significance. Normalize these in the workplace and you eliminate elements that lead to strife and conflict.
- Take employees’ input seriously. Create regular opportunities for employees to speak into decisions. Incorporate their insights. Give employees ownership of their area and allow/encourage their autonomy. Take those irritating, whining employees aside and give the opportunity for him/her to fully explain their frustrations. Your attention requires them to articulate their reasons for grumbling–offering you insight and forcing them to take a more mature position. Employer’s openness to honest communication creates security. Implementing input creates a sense of significance.
- Affirm employees’ contributions to the company. You hired each person who works in your company–and invest significant money in salary and benefits–because you need them. Routinely recognize the critical contribution each employee makes to the company’s success. Schedule times to take individuals aside to recognize their efforts one-on-one. Create opportunities to publicly acknowledge efforts. Employees who feel valued engage more enthusiastically in their role and with the company as a whole.
- Create clear HR protocols. Though employers need the flexibility to address individual situations, when employees see others fired from what seems out of the blue, they feel insecure. Insecurity leads to grumbling. And, grumbling to conflict. When there is a clear pattern of dealing with issues–whether because of employee misconduct or simple financial constraints on the company–the security of the known allows employees to commit more energy to work and less to confusion or grumbling.
Focus on increasing employee security and significance and you eliminate many of the dynamics that cause employee strife and cost you time and money. For those times conflict still arises and can’t be resolved, contact The Resolution Center. We offer:
- In-house training to education groups as a whole on healthy workplace interactions.
- Conflict Coaching to educate irascible employees or supervisors on strategies to communicate more effectively.
- Mediation to create workable solutions to issues in the workplace.
We look forward to partnering with you to resolve the conflict and keep the relationships moving forward.