Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It To Thrive
Our study found that the majority of employees (85%) have to deal with conflict to some degree and 29% do so
“always” or “frequently.” In Germany this latter figure jumps to 56%,while employees in Ireland (37%)and the US
(36%)also spend a significant amount of time managing disputes.
The level at which most conflict is observed is between entry-level/front-line roles (cited by 34% of respondents), but conflict also exists at the most senior levels: one in eight employees (12%) say that disagreements among their senior team are frequent or continual.
The primary causes of workplace conflict are seen as personality clashes and warring egos (49%),followed by stress (34%)and heavy workloads(33%).Culture also plays a part in the perception of causes: as Brazilian workers are more likely to see a clash of values as a major cause of conflict (24%).In France,36% of employees saw a lack of honesty as a key factor,compared with a global average of 26%.Unsurprisingly,poorly managed conflicts have a cost attached to them:the average employee spends 2.1 hours a week dealing with conflict. For the US alone,that translates to 385 million working days spent every year as a result of conflict in the workplace.One in six (16%) say a recent dispute escalated in duration and/or intensity,only 11% of those surveyed have never experienced a disagreement that escalated.
Various negative outcomes arise from conflicts. 27% of employees have seen conflict lead to personal attacks,and 25% have seen it result in sickness or absence. Indeed, nearly one in ten (9%) even saw it lead to a project failure.41% of employees think older people handle conflict most effectively, so life experience evidently helps people become more effective.The skill of leaders in this regard is the key determinant, however. Seven out of ten employees (70%)see managing conflict as a “very” or “critically” important leadership skill,while 54% of employees think managers could handle disputes better by addressing underlying tensions before things go wrong.