The CBI estimates a staggering 370 million working days are lost each year due to stress and workplace conflict which costs UK business in monetary terms, £33 billion per year!
The real cost of conflict can affect your organisation in ways that might not be so obvious; the emotional cost, the physical cost, the productivity cost and bottom line ... the profitability cost.
Conflict knows no boundaries and comes in many guises but some of the main causes are personality clashes, poor communication and differences in management style.
1. Emotional cost
We spend on average 9 hours a day and 45 hours per week at work. Imagine the impact of working in close proximity with someone who doesn't respect you, bullies you, verbally abuses you or simply ignores you. These, sadly, are typical examples of office conflict. So if these issues are not addressed, what could you expect?
The emotional costs mean relationships become unworkable, employees become demotivated and life in the office becomes untenable. But it doesn't stop there. The emotional impact of conflict can mushroom into the rest of the department. Employees are encouraged to 'take sides' and suddenly you are faced with a divisive workforce.
The domino effect of conflict can also be destructive outside the workplace too. Home life, which is a haven away from the office, now also becomes a toxic and unhappy place to be. Employees can take their emotions out on family and friends and become depressed, upset, anxious and if conflict is left unchecked, it could mean their personal baggage is now brought to the office too. Not an ideal scenario.
2. Physical cost
The stress of conflict can also affect the wellbeing and health of your employees. It is a known fact that being subjected to high, constant levels of stress can cause a range of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach complaints, heart attacks and in some cases lead to dependency on alcohol and drugs. Mood changes can affect the office dynamics and more importantly result in sick leave and absenteeism. The employer is then faced with costs to cover temporary member of staff and overtime as well as additional pressure and workload on other team members.
3. Productivity cost
An unhappy and demotivated employee is never going to be as productive as a happy one. Depression, lethargy and lack of interest in the job will prevail. This might affect relationships with customers and sales could take a nosedive as a consequence. And if an employee isn't contributing in a team, it could mean deadlines and targets are not met which could have a devastating effect on monthly figures and staff morale. It might even mean losing star employees.
4. Profitability cost
The bottom line in any organisation is profitability. If a conflict is left to escalate, an employer may well be faced with legal costs associated with lengthy tribunals as well as the cost of time that management will have to spend dealing with the claim.
In short, conflict costs! Dealing with it early through any form of Alternative Dispute Resolution before it escalates to a grievance or tribunal will ensure a healthy workforce and a healthy bottom line. Can your organisation afford to dismiss it?
Please contact me if you would like to discuss any workplace conflict issues.