For a bystander, workplace arguments may look goofy, petty and trivial and some participants in these disputes may cop to that as well. In fact, some would probably look right at home on an episode of "Seinfeld," "The Office" or some other sitcom that routinely features ridiculous scenarios and situations. However, workplace conflicts are no laughing matter. They can actually be quite costly, depending on how long they go for, how many people they affect and how they impact productivity through out the office.
Mediation services provider Conflict Solutions Center noted how expensive arguments can be. As much as 40 percent of supervisors' daily time is spent trying to resolve conflicts around the office. CSC also noted the costs of various suits that can result from workplace dissension, with the average wrongful termination suit coming in at $700,000 and the average sexual harassment complaint costing $58,000.
Even if there are no suits stemming from a conflict, these incidents can still have a negative impact on employee performance and thus the bottom line of the company in question. Mediate.com noted that as many as 65 percent of all employee performance problems are due to unhealthy relationships in the office, whether it be between two employees or a supervisor and a worker.
The worst thing about many of these conflict costs is the fact that they are not always apparent. Businesses are generally willing to invest in problem areas if they can get a return on their input. With workplace disputes, the toll they are taking on the bottom line isn't always apparent, which means it can be difficult to implement new strategies or get the training necessary to bring a resolution to conflicts in a healthy, productive way. Nonetheless, workplace arguments and bickering remains a huge cost, and companies must be aware of this potential problem moving forward.
Giving managers the tools they need to bring an end to disputes
Of course, conflicts in the workplace are not necessarily bad. If disputes are handled appropriately by an individual who has the tools to bring about a successful resolution, these conflicts can even be productive and workers can walk away with a better understanding of each other. Disagreements may even lead to innovative new ideas that can help the company grow and improve.
Problems only arise when conflicts stew and fester for days or even weeks and begin bleeding over into other teams or coworkers. If disputes are not resolved, negative feelings and emotions persist, which can lead to performance and production issues.
This is why businesses need to ensure their managers are well-equipped to deal with conflicts and bring about a productive resolution. Getting everyone to walk away from a dispute on the same page while dispelling any negative feelings and emotions is critical to the success of any firm. There is no stopping arguments in the workplace, however, managers with the skills to resolve conflict in a productive manner can go a long way in halting any negative effects stemming from disagreements.