The True Cost of Office Conflict

Published on 08/07/2019

Conflicts at work

When a conflict arises in the office, it’s vital to handle it quickly and effectively, to avoid an aftermath which could end up being far more serious than the original problem. 

How to handle the conflict depends on what it is, how many people it involves, and the severity, but it’s vital to do something about it and not allow it to fester. If you simply ignore the problem, either as part of the conflict or as a manager overseeing the team, you’re allowing morale to be affected. As a manager especially, you know that morale and profits have a direct link to one another. 

The true cost of an office conflict which is allowed to spread and fester is quite far reaching. Let’s explore the possible outcomes, so you can understand just how vital it is to handle these problems quickly and effectively at the time.

Low Morale Levels

One of the biggest risks of allowing a conflict between two or more employees sat at neighbouring or nearby office tables to spread is that morale throughout the office will be affected. Nobody wants to work in an office which involves drama, because it creates a negative atmosphere and that seeps throughout the entire building. 

In order for morale to be high, the space needs to be positive and everyone needs to get along as well as possible. Whilst it’s not possible for everyone to be best friends, it is possible to have sensible working relationships, which have the good of the business at their very heart.     

Confusion And Anxiety 

Depending upon the source and reason for the conflict, and what happens afterwards, this whole situation is likely to cause a certain amount of confusion and even anxiety amongst members of staff who aren’t involved. Not knowing what is going on, how bad it is, and what is going to happen is a precursor for staff feeling a little uncertain. From this, anxiety can breed, and if you have sensitive employees in particular, this is not going to make them feel comfortable whilst they’re sat at their office chairs

The best way to get around the aftermath of a conflict is to deal with the issue first, and then debrief staff members quickly. You don’t have to go into detail, you simply need to gather everyone in the meeting room, have a quick team meeting and explain that the problem is now sorted out, don’t worry, everything is back to normal. Simply avoiding talking about the issue is only going to allow anxiety to grow even further. 

Office gossip

Talking Behind Closed Doors And Gossiping

Of course, people are going to talk about what’s gone on and why it’s happened. This is a totally normal occurrence, but it’s one that you should try and avoid if at all possible. With staff sitting behind office partitions gossiping about the situation, you’re allowing Chinese whispers to occur. You know how it goes; one person says something, then something gets added on, something else is added, and before you know it the story is ten times bigger than the reality. 

This is one of the true costs of an office conflict, and one which needs to be avoided if at all possible. 

Cliques Forming/Taking Sides 

The other problem is that surrounding members of staff, sat at neighbouring modular office desks, may feel that they need to take sides. This will cause a huge drama to occur, as “warring sides” could trigger an even bigger conflict which will simply cause the problem to drag on for months, pulling the office further down into negativity. This doesn’t help office harmony and does nothing for collaboration efforts, morale or productivity. 

If you’re going to try and avoid any of the above true costs of an office conflict, this one is the most serious of them all. When people start to form cliques and take sides, the interests of the business have gone out of the window, and everything has become personal and quite toxic. 

Dealing with conflict isn’t simply about nipping the problem in the bud, it’s about preventing a whole host of other wider reaching issues from occurring. As a manager, it’s your job to stop this from happening, and as an employee, it’s your job to do your best to overcome conflict at source. 

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