Here’s how to reduce workplace conflict02 Oct 2022
When you combine multiple people of different backgrounds, working styles and temperaments, it's almost guaranteed that conflict will arise to some degree or another. As explained by the Society for Human Resource Management, workplace conflict can take many forms ranging from passive-aggressive email communications to heated verbal arguments and exchanges of insults.
Workplace conflict has a negative effect on employee retention and output. A 2019 study showed that recurring instances of disputes between colleagues are one of the primary causes of employees leaving companies and reducing workplace productivity. If employees feel uncomfortable, they're less likely to work hard or stick around.
Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid conflict from occurring altogether. Of course, you're never going to be able to eliminate all conflict in your organisation with these strategies, you can start to reduce the frequency of incidents.
Tips for reducing workplace conflict
1) Create a psychologically healthy environment
Building a safe and harmonious work environment is the first step in preventing workplace conflict. Tensions are less likely to arise when employees feel at ease. To help employees feel relaxed, you need to be proactive in fostering a sense of trust, fairness and respect in your working environment. You can help develop a congenial workplace atmosphere by allowing employees to air their grievances without fear of backlash or punishment. Let employees know they can approach you with their concerns and that they will be taken seriously and treated delicately and with care.
2) Improve workplace communication
As noted by Forbes, more often than not, the cause of workplace conflict is poor communication and simple misunderstandings that end up snowballing beyond control. You can prevent this kind of escalation by making sure that information is communicated to and between employees in a clear and timely manner. Ensure that employees know they're always welcome to request clarification if they don't understand a task that's been assigned to them, a change in management structure or any other development in the workplace without feeling embarrassed. Make certain that everyone in your team is polite and patient when answering each other's questions.
3) Address conflict instead of avoiding it
Many people are uncomfortable with conflict and avoid it at all costs. However, by ignoring the problem, it's likely to get worse — making it essential to diffuse minor situations before they become serious. If an employee reports conflict or if you can see a problem, take the time to call in the relevant parties to address the issue head-on. Explain to everyone involved that a discussion needs to take place so that the team can find a solution and prevent the issue from recurring moving forward. During this kind of meeting, you can usually ask someone from your HR department to ask as a mediator.
4) Make sure needs employees' needs are met
Another common cause of workplace conflict is employees feeling or seeing that their needs aren't being met or that they're not being treated equally. To avoid this, make sure that resources are distributed appropriately. This means giving every employee the time and tools they need to complete their work to the best of their abilities regardless of their role in the company. Ensure that people are performing their specific duties based on their job description and aren't taking on other people's work (unless they agree to do so).