Forty hours is the average length of a work week. Many people spend more hours at their place of work. But regardless of whether you have a part-time job or a full time job or a more-than-full-time job, workplace conflicts can arise between employees.
Employees are busy and have various pressing priorities, and workplace conflicts are bound to develop. The important thing is to know how to deal with them when they do arise so that the conflict is resolved or at least defused. The worst case scenario is to be unprepared for a clash that develops into something worse.
Most of us spend as much time at work as we do at home with our families. And just as we can have disagreements with family members, the same can happen in a work environment.
6 Major Reasons of Workplace Conflicts
No matter how laid back your work setting is, there are bound to be conflicts caused by:
1. Looming Deadlines
Everyone knows the stress of having an important deadline. By their very nature, deadlines are stressful. Even if the project began months and months earlier, there will come a day when the deliverables are due and employees are on edge, and that is when short tempers will bubble up.
2. Unrealistic Expectations
Most people want to do a great job at work. In order for employees to succeed, the expectations of their work must be realistic. Again, the level of stress produced by an employee trying to achieve the unachievable can cause emotions to run high and tempers to erupt.
3. Too Many Priorities
Even the best multi-tasker can’t do everything at once. Something has to be the first priority. Do your employees a favor and don’t tell them that all the projects are the highest priority.
4. Fear of Layoffs
When employees are hearing whispers about lay-offs, they naturally get nervous — and maybe overly competitive with and unsupportive of their co-workers. As an employer, the best thing you can do is be honest. Knowing the facts — and being allowed to prepare — should help alleviate some employee stress and help to avoid unnecessary conflict.
5. Salary Inequality
If two people doing the same job with the same ability and the same level of seniority aren’t making the same amount of money, tensions can arise. And — as an employer — you don’t want these tensions to grow into conflicts, so make sure that there’s a documented reason for any significant salary inequality.
Again, do everything by the book and be able to explain your reasons for giving one person a promotion over another. Sometimes what appears to be favoritism is really just the best person getting the promotion.
How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts
An organization should set up clear rules and expectations so that employees understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. For example,
- Work emails should be direct and respectful. Ask for assistance, don’t demand it. Don’t forget “please” and “thank you” even if you’re in a rush.
- Work meetings should have a mediator or leader who ensures everyone has a chance to speak and no one talks over anyone else or otherwise dominates the meeting.
- Employee review should be conducted equally across the board. Always use a human resources approved form.
- Personal insults should never be tolerated. Never.
Additional Rules and Regulations
In addition, set up guidelines about political and religious talk before it becomes an issue. Whether you allow it or you don’t, the important point is to be consistent so that one group doesn’t feel left out or ganged-up on.
Make sure your supervisors and managers get regular training. If you’re promoting from within, then you may have put your best salesperson in charge of a team. That salesperson needs instruction on how to be the best team leader because selling and managing are two different skills. Once the supervisors and managers are all well trained, they’ll know how to diffuse any workplace conflicts before they escalate into something worse.
Workplace harassment training should be a key part of your organization’s ongoing employee education. Naturally, new employees should be alerted to what constitutes harassment and what their rights and responsibilities are. The more you educate your employees, the less likely there is to be any confusion on the matter. And do your best to make sure that the training they receive is accurate and engaging because if the employees aren’t engaged, they won’t learn.
In the end, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure the workplace is free of unnecessary conflict. Differences of opinion are a valuable part of a healthy work environment. And it might be impossible to avoid all conflict, but with proper training and clear expectations, you’ll have a system in place to defuse and resolve any conflicts that arise.
Frankie Little is a freelance writer from Santa Monica, California. With over 10 years of experience publishing articles across the web, her professionalism and writing has made her many news outlets’ go-to writer. During her free time, she enjoys researching new topics and educating herself about interesting markets