Conflict and disagreements can occur anywhere that people spend a significant amount of time together, such as the office. These workplace conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons – including personality clashes, poor communication, stressful deadlines or cultural misconceptions – and can impact anyone in the organization, from supervisors to subordinates.
Workplace conflicts have become so pervasive in U.S. corporate culture that the United States Congress Office of Compliance (OOC) officially designates April as Workplace Conflict Awareness Month to help draw attention to addressing and resolving workplace conflicts in a timely and professional manner.
Avoiding and resolving workplace conflict is vital to a company’s success. Below, we share some tips on how employers can mitigate workplace conflicts before they escalate and negatively impact employee morale, or the company’s bottom line.
Why Mitigating Workplace Conflict is Crucial to Corporate Health
According to the OOC, unresolved workplace conflicts can cause high stress levels for staff members involved in the conflict and even those who are not, resulting in lack of focus, mental health issues, missed deadlines, employee turnover and more.
One study estimates that U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week involved with conflict, amounting to approximately $359 billion in paid hours or the equivalent of 385 million work days.
What’s worse is that workplace conflicts have even escalated to what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines as workplace violence, which is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” And, nearly 2 million American workers victimized by workplace violence each year.
How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Violence Hazards
Unquestionably, workplace conflict is an increasingly prevalent issue for employers, and the key to reducing this threat is proactive mitigation. This can be achieved through establishing clear guidance on what conduct is tolerated in the workplace, defining a policy for addressing conflicts as they arise and encouraging employees to take an active role in helping curb conflict or violence.
Some immediate workplace conflict mitigation steps employers can take include:
- Zero Tolerance Policies
Creating and communicating a zero tolerance policy is one of the best protections employers can offer their workers. An effective zero tolerance policy should cover all employees, clients or patients, visitors, vendors, or anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.
To ensure all workers know and understand the company’s zero tolerance policy, the expectations can be conveyed through an employee handbook, workplace conflict/violence prevention program or other official company documentation.
- Understanding the Current Conflict Landscape Through Polling and Surveying
It’s common practice for companies to occasionally ask their employees for feedback on job performance or company goals, so why not ask them to also share their perspective on the potential for conflict at the office?
When it comes to mitigating office conflict, your employees have their fingers on the pulse of the organization. With a mass notification system in place, like Regroup Mass Notification, you can effortlessly collect and track feedback from a large number of team members about workplace conflict through surveys or anonymous messages and responses.
- Use Anonymous Tipping to Empower Safe and Secure Employee Reporting
Regroup Mass Notification’s powerful, easy-to-use platform offers an anonymous reporting feature, TipSafe, which allows employees to anonymously alert security teams in real-time to time-sensitive information about potential conflicts or threats.
A feature like TipSafe ensures anonymity for the tipster and increases the likelihood that the employer will learn of a potential workplace conflict before it can escalate to something more serious.
Additional Resources for Managing Workplace Conflict
If a conflict already exists, employers can still play a role in eliminating the threat of potential violence or other issues:
- Enlist Help From Company Experts
Work with HR team members to offer conflict-resolution training for the involved employees. This type of training can also be beneficial to all employees as a way to preemptively address workplace conflict before it begins. Oftentimes, as part of their professional development, many HR professionals receive conflict-resolution training, so they’re accustomed to conducting such training or enlisting outside resources for supervisors and managers.
- Contact OSHA
Employers can also contact OSHA’s free and confidential “On-Site Consultation Program” to help determine whether business hazards or risk of conflict still exist. OSHA will then work with company stakeholders to correct any identified risks.
To reach the appropriate regional or area OSHA office, employers can view a list of the OSHA offices by state from OSHA’s website or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Prevention is a Year-Round Job
Conflict Awareness Month may only last 30 days; however, with the right preparedness program and technology in place, employers can proactively manage the growing threat of workplace violence year-round.
Learn more about how Regroup Mass Notification can help you mitigate workplace conflict by calling 775-476-8710, scheduling a free demonstration by visiting Regroup.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.