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© 2007-16 Contact Lawrie Cherniack

The Cost of Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace runs the spectrum from simple disagreements to severe acting-out.  It can lead to either costly problems or creative solutions.  In-house solutions can be very effective.  Sometimes, however, it’s necessary to bring in a third-party mediator.

The cost of workplace conflict:

Every workplace which has more than one employee will have workplace conflict at some point.  Simple disagreements among employees can turn into misunderstandings.  Those misunderstandings can turn into resentments or fears.   Those deep emotions make real communication very difficult.  Conflict follows as a matter of course.  The smaller workplace can often have the deepest conflicts because the employees have to work together closely.  The larger workplaces can often have the most disruptive conflicts because it is easier to allow the conflicts to fester.  

Conflicts in the workplace manifest themselves as:

The traditional methods of resolving workplace conflict may put an end to the particular manifestation of that conflict, but don’t end the conflict itself.  It is clear that increased time and energy will continue to be spent on dealing with the underlying conflicts.

Further, with many conflicts ultimately one or more employees leave of their own accord or have to be terminated.  Losing an employee creates a number of very clear costs:

Conflict can benefit the workplace:

Conflict can be used to create productive solutions to workplace problems.  Most workplace problems can be resolved through workplace mediation.  The process of workplace mediation can create a harmonious workplace, with engaged employees who have the tools to handle any further disagreements or problems.

There is clear value to workplace mediation.  An engaged employee is a more productive employee who views changes and problems as learning opportunities.  An engaged employee works as part of a team.  An engaged employee sees the value of the work that he or she does.

There is no magic to this process.  It can, however, be very intense and require a lot of work, as well as a great deal of training.  Many Human Resource professionals—and some supervisors—have both the training and the skills to work with employees in conflict and prevent further problems.  If they have the time and opportunity to use their training, it is usually best that no third-party mediator be called in.  In-house solutions have the added benefit of strengthening the workplace team and providing instant resources for solving future problems.

When to use a third-party neutral mediator:

A third-party mediator should be used, obviously, when no one at the workplace has either the time, the opportunity, or the training, to deal with the situation.  Other less obvious but significant reasons are when:

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