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What is workplace conflict?

By 02/06/2022May 15th, 2023Employee Wellbeing
What is workplace conflict?

Workplace conflict can make coming into work uncomfortable and even downright unpleasant for both the employees involved in the conflict and those around them. However, it is almost inescapable, as individuals are bound to clash at some point or another.

What form might that clash take, and how do you identify and resolve it quickly? In this post, our experts at Natural HR will answer these questions and more so that you are well equipped to identify and handle these situations.

What are the 5 common types of workplace conflict?

There are five common types of conflict in the workplace. Here are the main issues to look out for:

  • Personality conflicts: It is important to remember that everyone is different, and your employees and colleagues may have different backgrounds, ideas, ways of thinking, and personalities. These differences can make it tricky for people to get along, and may result in conflict between clashing personalities.
  • Task-based/ interdependence conflict: If two or more employees are working on a task together, these employees must coordinate their tasks and work together efficiently. Otherwise one may end up waiting for the other to finish their task in order for the project to progress, resulting in frustration and wasted time.
  • Leadership conflict: There are plenty of different leadership styles, and people react differently to each. Leaders with opposing views and styles may experience or cause conflict in the office.
  • Work style conflict: Much like the above conflict cause, employees will have different work styles. Some people prefer to work alone, while others are more productive in groups. Some will also need more direction, while others are independent and want to take the reigns. These differences can result in conflict at work.
  • Creative ideas conflict: As we are all different, we may also each have different creative ideas for a project. However, if well managed, this conflict can result in excellent brainstorming. Having a variety of ideas is better than having one, as long as everyone is respectful of each other.

What is the most common workplace conflict?

While this differs from company to company, the most common reason for conflict is generally work style differences. This can lead to employees feeling frustrated and stressed, and can slow down productivity and production.

How do you identify conflict in the workplace?

There are a few signs to look out for when considering conflict in the workplace. These include:

  • Decrease in productivity
  • Quality issues in work produced
  • High turnover in employees
  • Anxiety and stress in staff
  • Dysfunctional or challenging meetings
  • Official and unofficial complaints
  • Excessive absenteeism

How do you resolve conflict in the workplace?

As you can see, these noticeable displays of conflict can be very problematic within any company. They can cost your company a lot of money and can create an unhappy or unsatisfied workforce. Fortunately, there are a few ways in which you can tackle and resolve these conflicts.

For a start, having efficient HR software that allows you to monitor and engage with your employees is incredibly useful in navigating conflict. From that starting part, consider what your employees need and what types of conflict they are dealing with. Keep calm, communicate through active listening, be empathetic, and encourage employees to do the same. 

If your company is struggling with more severe cases of workplace conflict that cannot be solved by the above methods, consider workshops, consultants and leadership development training. In the long run, the cost will be worth the change, as your employees become happier, more productive, and more satisfied in their roles.