For any organisation, the goal is to keep being productive and making money and the only way to do this and sustain this growth is to have happy staff. As such, no company wants conflict on their premises.

In order to get maximum productivity from workers, there can be no space for arguing with one another or criticising each other. Thus, conflict management skills play a very important role in business to allow everyone to concentrate fully on their workload.

If conflict management is handled appropriately, stress disappears from the workplace and employees are left feeling motivated and happy in their roles.

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Negative Impacts Of Conflict Within A Business

As we have discussed in our previous posts, conflict at work can terribly frustrating, debilitating even, if it is poorly managed and left to get out of control. Staff in pressured environments can start to feel ill and resent going to work, which can lead to them being less motivated and taking more sick days. Not only does this trail of events impact the worker, it also has a big impact on the company as a whole. Here is why.

Decreased Productivity

When employees aren't happy at work, they aren't motivated to please and impress their employer. In fact, they will probably do the bare minimum out of pride for getting a job done and to avoid being sanctioned. The problem here is that companies are left with staff who aren't exactly failing to do their jobs, and therefore cannot legally be sacked, however, they are not performing their jobs well and this leads to a decrease in productivity. When everyone works in harmony, the job gets done quicker and effortlessly.

Not enjoying your work can make you feel demotivated.
A negative working environment can lead to people becoming less productive. Photo on Visualhunt

Of course, if workers are this unhappy at work then it is very much up to the managers to recognise this and find the source of the issue. In the words of Erin L. Davis: "A Happy Employee is a Productive Employee".

Project Failure

While slow productivity can be a real pain for business owners, especially if they don't know what's happening on the ground to cause this unhealthy atmosphere and culture, a complete failure to meet requirements can be incredibly damaging to business. If workers don't take pride in their job and care about the success of the business then they are unlikely to put themselves out there and prevent projects from failing.

While the majority of employers don't expect workers to work for nothing, many do ask that employees work harder or more hours in the lead up to important deadlines to ensure that all of their hard work during the year has not been wasted. Employees who stand up to their responsibility will often be rewarded in monetary terms or with promotions or recognition for their efforts.

Absence

As mentioned above, when workers are feeling low, they are far more likely to call in sick than if they were really loving life in the office. Absence in the workplace can be detrimental to business, especially if this occurs during busy or peak times of the year (for example if an accountant was to take sick leave in the lead up to the end of the financial year and peak tax return time).

Workers are more likely to call in sick if there's conflict at work.
Negativity at work can lead to more absence due to sickness. Photo on Visualhunt

Turnover Loss

When employees are sick, the team or department pays for it as others must step in to fill the absentee's shoes.

Moreover, the business actually pays for it, paying wages even when you are at home. Staff who are genuinely unwell have every reason to use this basic right to rest from work, but when absence stems from underlying tensions in the workplace then it is both the employee and their employer who may be to blame. The employee could be reaching out to their Human Resources team or manager to improve their working experience whilst the employer should not let such issues pass unnoticed.

Either way, vast amounts of absences can lead to turnover losses in some instances.

Colleague Dismissal

Since conflict can occur at times when it is least expected, reactions can sometimes be spontaneous and not thought through. As such, some workers may react in a way that they might later feel ashamed about. However, by then, it may be too late.

If you happen to get caught up in a negative situation at work and find yourself losing your temper, getting physical, being petty or anything along these lines, then your employer has every right to sanction you or to dismiss you for your unacceptable behaviour.

Remember, it doesn't just mean that the person throwing punches might get fired, the person winding them up may be just as culpable to being asked to leave the premises too.

Stress And Anxiety

Discussed in more detail in one of our other pieces, stress and anxiety can impact on your life in general, causing you to feel unhappy at home and at work. Don't let stress in the office follow you home, nip it in the bud there and then with a talk with colleagues, your manager or your HR consultant to let them know that you aren't coping with the pressure being put on you.

Example Scenarios Of Conflict In Various Business Structures

Below are some strategies that can be used in real-life conflict.

Discrimination Or Prejudice

Discrimination can cause a very bad atmosphere and could potentially lead to legal intervention if not handled appropriately.

Minorities in a team may feel more vulnerable to attack and might feel that they are being given a less favourable workload to their colleagues. In this instance, the employee may harbour resentment against their peers and their boss and could begin to work less enthusiastically and productively and ultimately could lash out verbally.

To resolve this issue or prevent it from happening in the first place, a manager could take the entire team aside and discuss how work is distributed and make changes as suggested by all team members to ensure the smooth running of the department and that tasks are divided evenly and fairly.

Call operators deal with tricky customers on a daily basis.
Working in a customer-facing role can be pressured but it's important to be polite and resolve any conflict respectfully. Photo credit: aqua.mech on Visual hunt / CC BY

Performance

Some employees may be frustrated that a co-worker isn't pulling their weight and that they are masking this underperformance by doing their own jobs too well. Others might be unhappy with negative feedback received in a performance review.

When an employee or multiple employees become angry over performance-related issues, it can lead to a negative atmosphere. Moreover, it can lead to disturbances during review meetings. To avoid such outbursts, managers could clearly set out goals and a plan of action to help the member see where they can make up for their previous shortfalls and should provide guaranteed incentives.

Customers

Staff in customer-facing roles can experience conflict daily, due to volatile working environments.

Usually, dissatisfied customers feel defrauded by the actual person selling to them, and will confront them in an aggressive manner. Trying to deal with an irate customer can be very difficult, especially if the customer feels personally defrauded and won't settle for anything less than what they've set out to get (even if you can't possibly meet their demands), so sometimes involving a manager is the best way to move forward to calm the situation down.

Customers are usually happier to speak to managers because of their higher level of responsibility and their right to make a final decision on offers or refunds. Regardless of whether a manager is required to help resolve a problem, the colleague dealing with this issue should remain respectful and polite.

Hierarchal

There are often clashes between co-workers of differing levels of responsibility within a business.

Managers and their subordinates can have fallouts when managers are too authoritarian, or if their workers have the perception that they are too weak as leaders. Hands-off managers are guilty of bad communication which can often lead to less clarity of what people are expected to do. To reduce the risk of this happening, a culture of respect should be championed by all persons working for the company, particularly by management teams who should show respect to those working underneath them.

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Laura

Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.