By Jamie Wright
According to American Psychological Association (APA), 65% of Americans cite work as a top source of stress in their lives. Being that it’s a place we spend so much time, we should enjoy our day, or least not get stressed out. Far too often, however, there are problems such as jealousy, power struggles, gossip, and drama that can lead to stress and workplace conflicts. How a company handles conflict resolution in the office can impact everything from its productivity to its turnover rate, making it an important issue to stay on top of.
“Conflicts in the office can result from people of different generations and ideologies working together, or because they are lacking a strong leader to help set the example of what is acceptable,” explains Jamie Wright, a renowned millennial lawyer and political pundit. “The good news is that where there is conflict there are resolutions. There are always effective ways to handle the situations as they arise.”
The APA also reports that the benefits of maintaining a psychologically healthy workplace include a higher job satisfaction rate, employees who are engaged and motivated to do their best, and a lower employee turnover rate, among other things. Being able to lower the employee turnover rate and avoid losses of productivity due to office conflicts is going to save the company a lot of money in the long run. Employees who are engaged in workplace conflict will be more likely to have a reduction in productivity, use more sick days, and want to leave the company because of the stress and unhappy environment it has created.
It’s important to understand that there will be conflicts that arise, and that is a normal part of having people spend so much time working together. Conflicts will happen, and when they do, it’s important to resolve them right away so that the issue doesn’t fester and become an even bigger problem. Along with addressing it right away, here are some tips for handling conflict resolution in the office:
- Open communication. Maintain an office environment that promotes open and honest communication that is delivered in a respectful manner. Everyone should feel comfortable being able to address management and share their concerns or ask for assistance with conflict resolution.
- Practice good listening. Often times, people just want someone who will listen to them. Focus on listening more than trying to speak. Ask all parties involved to respectfully share their side of the story, as well as what they think will help to resolve the conflict.
- Establish boundaries. Good leadership in the office will take the time to establish acceptable boundaries and let people know what is and isn’t going to be tolerated. This goes for workplace gossip, jealousy, and other such common issues. Consider holding a conflict resolution workshop for employees, so they learn how to professionally avoid the pitfalls of it and address it when it happens.
- Maintain an open mind. There are always two sides to every story, and sometimes the employees may have the best solutions to offer. Keeping an open mind will help you navigate the resolution field and help get people back to being focused on company goals.
- Know the limits. No matter how hard you may try to keep peace in the office, there may still be problems with an employee. That’s when you have to determine if it’s worth keeping the person or making a change for the betterment of the office atmosphere and productivity.
- Hire right. To help avoid conflicts in the first place, hire right from the start. Choose people based more on their personality than their resume. You can’t teach someone to have a good attitude, but you can teach them how to use your software. Also, make sure people are properly trained and know what their specific job duties are. This will help avoid confusion that may lead to conflicts.
- Be a leader. Taking on the task of being a good leader in the office means addressing things like conflicts like a pro. Keep it businesslike, respectful, and handle it in a matter-of-fact kind of way, but don’t be afraid to call in assistance, such as a professional mediator, if you feel it’s needed.
“I’ve worked with many office teams to address conflict resolution,” added Wright. “It’s a big part of any office and something that should be addressed. The company will always benefit from having a group of employees who work together well as a team.”
Jamie Wright is a millennial attorney who specializes in millennial issues, government affairs, crisis communication, and conflict resolution, among other areas. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she practices law in Los Angeles. She is also a partner in the Millennial Government Affairs group, and is a political pundit and crisis communications expert. For more information, visit her website at: www.jamiewrightesq.com