Workplace Conflict Is Costly

The staggering cost of people problems in the workplace is more than you think. According to The Harvard Business Review, American employers report spending an average of 2.8 hours a week on resolving conflicts. From dipping productivity to a loss of personnel, this $356 billion loss has a huge impact.

Workplace conflict doesn’t only impact your office, it impacts into other areas such as customer service. Leaders may leave conflicts to the employees to resolve. After all, we’re all adults, right? Leaving workplace conflicts unaddressed, however, leads to additional issues which impact other areas, causing productivity, quality, and customer service to suffer.

The petty banter between two coworkers can turn into a costly venture for the company. Arguments and office gossip may seem harmless, but both can become expensive. When employees spend time gossiping or coping with conflict, it’s harder for them to focus on work. Marli Rusen calls this behavior presenteeism. Rusen states that presenteeism is difficult because employees come to work but spend a significant amount of company time coping with conflict or dealing with gossip, often leading to aggressive behavior.  A culture with this much conflict is toxic to a team, especially if it’s dependent on collaboration. Not to mention the impact on a potential customer if they overhear that behavior.

Absenteeism is another behavior born in a culture lacking conflict resolution. Unlike presenteeism, according to Rusen, absenteeism occurs when an employee stops reacting to conflict and instead avoids it by not coming to work. The employee may suffer from depression or anxiety due to conflict at work. Absenteeism is costly for a business, potentially including training and overtime costs to cover the gap left by the absent employee.

In both situations, the company loses money. Either through a loss in productivity because of petty behavior or gaps in attendance. A dip in productivity due to lack of focus and a prickly environment can directly impact your customers, your product, and your profits. Presenteeism likely fosters a hostile environment while absenteeism brings about overworked and underpaid staff, not to mention the emotional burden on the employees involved.

According to The Entrepreneur, conflict causes even vested employees to leave a job. One worker can cost $70,000 (for a mid-level position) to replace. When a good employee leaves a job because of a toxic environment, they take their opinion with them. The company gets a reputation as a difficult place to work, and hiring new talent becomes harder.

Don’t let workplace conflict go unnoticed, it could be an expensive mistake both in real dollars and in reputation.

Ways to deal with workplace conflict include communication styles training and DISC assessments. For more information on these and other leadership and team building training, go to the Services tab on my website.

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