The Cost of Conflict at Work – Loss of Momentum, Turnover & Engagement

Conflict management

Forming—storming—norming—performing 

Conflict is a necessary part of building a team and making a difference at work. Conflict at work is unavoidable. If conflict at work is resolved in a timely fashion, teams perform much better and satisfaction at work also improves. Failure to do so can lead to workplace stress, lost time, increased turnover, and more.

This is why managers are often trained in conflict assessment and resolution. But conflict management isn’t an exact science and the results vary depending on how it is handled. Companies lose thousands of dollars every year due to these disputes; but monetary loss isn’t all there is to this equation.

The cost of conflict at work runs much deeper than this. Here, we will discuss some hidden costs that you might have to face if your management doesn’t handle difficult coworkers on time.

Direct Costs of Employee Conflict – Lost Time & Momentum

One liners, snarkiness, bullying, anger and resentment will continue destroying momentum, morale and bottom line results until a strategy is put in place that will transform conflict into opportunity. 

Conflict at work can be healthy, however when it becomes toxic, it ends up being more like a punching match. This sets up your business and department for lost time and momentum.

With unresolved conflict, employees get distracted from the work they were doing. Their flow breaks, which means getting back to work with the same level of concentration will take some time. This loss of momentum leads to lost paid hours, which ends up amounting to $359 billion (approximately 385 million working days) in the US every year.

Some reasons for such losses and conflicts may include:

  • Poor hiring practices
  • Uninspiring leaders
  • Avoiding conflicts until the last second
  • Unchecked office politics

The best way to deal with this issue is to offer assessments and training in handling conflict

Increased Employee Turnover

Conflict work th is bound to leave a bad taste in many an employees’ mouth, which can lead to emotion-driven decisions and therefore increase turnover rates. This can either be a step from the management or from the employees’ side. Whatever the case, turnovers can cost businesses several weeks or months to recover from.

The loss of productivity is even greater if the employees in question are highly-motivated and senior employees.

A survey by SHRM suggested that almost 33% of employees were looking to change their job within the next 6 months with:

  • 42% leaving because of office politics
  • 25% leaving because of poor relations with supervisors
  • 28% looking for a better boss

Disengagement

Disengaged employees is a silent cost of conflict. An employee who feels like their problem isn’t being addressed – nor will it ever be – will believe that there is no reason for them to work harder. It directly impacts (adversely) three key drivers:

  • Relationship with their leaders
  • Trust in their seniors
  • Pride in working for the company

Disengaged employees are relatively harder to identify, which is why apt leadership and online resilience training comes in handy. These employees don’t necessarily quit, but end up creating a toxic environment for others and therefore disengaging others.

It is important for companies to have a robust conflict management strategy in place. Pre-emptive measures and processes to deal with workplace conflict go a long way in reducing workplace stress and therefore cost of conflict. If you’d like to give your employees tips on managing conflict, get in touch with us and let’s discuss options!

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The Cost of Conflict at Work – Loss of Momentum, Turnover & Engagement

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Dr. Cynthia Howard

Dr. Cynthia Howard has worked with thousands of leaders, professionals and business owners and recognized the unique challenges leaders have in managing, inspiring, and engaging their teams while maintaining their boundaries, passion and reason they chose to lead.

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