Conflict in the Workplace

We all recognise the serious impact that conflict can have on our working lives and the working lives of others.

Conflict which goes unresolved can become debilitating. It can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and worry and dominate your thinking, often leading to lack of sleep and illness.

When it comes to considering some of the key fundamentals of a modern workplace e.g. employee engagement, performance management, talent retention, innovation, a positive working environment – conflict has the potential to undermine all of them. It is inevitable.

Some of the statistics globally on this are startling:

  • 70% of employees are disengaged, 18% actively disengaged
  • An estimated 30% of a manager’s time is spent on dealing with conflict
  • 52% of managers have experienced harassment
  • Chronic unresolved conflict acts as a decisive factor in 50% of departures and 90% of involuntary departures
  • Work-related conflict is among the top eight reasons why employees request counselling assistance
  • 26% of employees experienced conflict that led to bullying
  • 80% of non-managers believe that conflict is not handled well by those above them in the organisation
  • 54% of employees think managers could handle disputes better by addressing underlying tensions before things go wrong

Of the causes cited for conflict, two thirds of Irish workers (66%) think personality clashes are the major cause of conflict at work. It seems that it is very challenging for a manager to manage this type of conflict. Research supports this telling us that managers and leaders find it difficult to handle conflict because it is filled with difficult emotional issues that they find very challenging to control or manage.