Home - Managing workplace conflict

UpdatesMar 08, 2019

Managing workplace conflict

An unpleasant working environment plagued by internal conflicts can have serious consequences not only for your employees, but also your business.

An unpleasant working environment plagued by internal conflicts can have serious consequences not only for your employees, but also your business.

Workplace conflicts can take several forms, including:

When these conflicts are left unaddressed, employees may feel undervalued and disrespected, which in turn can lower employee morale, reduce productivity and in some cases increase absenteeism and staff turnover.

In the most serious situations, employees might suffer from psychological injuries and other serious mental health issues, which you can be legally liable for. This can cause reputational damage as well.

Below we outline 5 steps you must take to minimise the risk of workplace conflicts and reduce your organisation’s legal liability.

1. Implement workplace policies:

Workplace policies should outline what type of conduct that will not be tolerated by the organisation.

Typically, this would include any type of unlawful behaviour and any behaviour that is disrespectful and has the potential to harm other employees.

2. Conduct training:

Employees must be aware of the policies, and their obligations to each other and the organisation.

Regularly discuss appropriate workplace behaviour and set clear expectations regarding conduct.

3. Implement complaint procedures:

Employees should know who they can speak to about workplace issues and if necessary, raise a formal complaint.

Encourage employees to raise potential workplace issues on a confidential basis so that problems can be addressed at an early stage before they become more serious.

4. Obtain feedback:

Conduct exit interviews to understand the reasons why an employee has decided to move on from your organisation.

This is another way to identify potential problems in the workplace and why a particular team or department may be experiencing high staff turnover

5. Manage disputes appropriately:

Managers and HR officers should be aware of the conflict resolution procedure and be trained to ensure disputes are properly and efficiently managed.

Ensure conflicts are dealt with confidentially and in a timely manner.

Conflict between employees and their supervisors can often arise in during performance management. To aim to prevent this, feedback should be provided regularly and constructively, not just during an annual review.

Approaches to conflict resolution

There are a number of approaches you can take to resolve workplace conflict.

Remember, when resolving conflict, it is important that you maintain confidentiality.

Employees are more likely to engage in the conflict resolution process (either as the victim, perpetrator or witness) if they are confident the process and their statements will remain confidential.


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