8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Why Workplace Conflict Deserves Our Attention

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell

Over the course of a career, most of us will experience workplace conflict at some point, whether or not we are one of the parties involved. The most common subjects of workplace disputes center around issues about performance, work assignments, promotion and compensation. However, the dispute, at its core, often concerns  issues about dignity and respect, whether it is a charge of workplace discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statutes or another workplace complaint.

Ignoring workplace conflict can lead to various negative consequences for both individuals and the organization as a whole. Here are several reasons why workplace conflict deserves our full attention:

Decreased productivity: Conflict can create tension and distractions, diverting employees’ focus away from their tasks. When conflicts are left unaddressed, productivity may suffer as employees become preoccupied with the issues at hand rather than their work responsibilities.

Negative work environment: Unresolved conflict can contribute to a toxic work environment characterized by hostility, resentment, and low morale. This can have a detrimental impact on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.

Damaged relationships: Conflict left to fester can strain relationships between colleagues, supervisors, and teams. Failure to address conflicts in a timely manner may result in fractured trust and communication breakdowns, making collaboration and teamwork difficult.

Increased turnover: Persistent conflict can drive employees to seek employment elsewhere in search of a more harmonious work environment. High turnover rates can be costly for organizations in terms of recruitment, onboarding, and lost expertise.

Legal risks: Some conflicts may involve issues such as harassment, discrimination, or breaches of employment laws. Ignoring such conflicts can expose the organization to legal liabilities and damage its reputation.

Stifled innovation and creativity: Conflict can stifle open communication and idea-sharing within the workplace. When employees feel uncomfortable expressing themselves or challenging the status quo due to unresolved conflicts, it can hinder innovation and creativity.

Escalation of conflict: Unaddressed conflicts have the potential to escalate and spread, affecting more individuals and departments within the organization. What may start as a minor disagreement between two employees can evolve into a larger issue if left unattended.

Impact on customer and client relations: Workplace conflict can spill over into interactions with customers or clients, negatively affecting the organization’s reputation and customer satisfaction levels.

Addressing workplace conflict promptly and effectively is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. It allows issues to be resolved before they escalate and helps foster a culture of open communication, mutual respect, and collaboration. Speak with a trained and experienced mediator before conflict escalates to the point of damaging relationships and the organization as a whole.

Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She is one of eight Maryland mediators featured on a statewide demonstration video of good mediation practice. Ellen is certified by the International Mediation Institute.  She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse clients in Washington, DC and the US. Get in touch with her via email, and follow her on LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Author: Ellen Kandell

Leave a Reply