Conflict resolution

Is your job stressing you out? Every day, more than 1 million American workers call in sick in order to avoid dealing with colleagues or management. Business owners want to facilitate employee communication and to reduce turnover, but finding ways to bridge the gap at work can be a little difficult. While people can select the people and groups that they socialize with outside of work, the combination of personalities at work can start to feel like family: you can’t pick who you work with, and you can’t get away from them either. So if you’re tired of fighting with your co-workers about politics or about work-related matters, you might want to look into conflict resolution training for your entire office.

Part of a healthy approach to conflict involves knowing when to walk away. A good rule of thumb is to avoid high-stress topics like religion and politics at work: keep the conversation to more neutral topics. You might not enjoy hearing about your co-workers’ trips, book club, and grandchildren, but part of creating a positive work environment is keeping conversations benign and, sometimes, to a bare minimum. If you feel harassed by a co-worker, make sure to inform management, and try to walk away if you feel like a conversation is turning into a confrontation. You can’t change your co-workers’ opinions, and the focus should be on work rather than on interpersonal conflicts.

Many businesses struggle to keep employees past the first year, and most report that the cost of training and onboarding new employees is more than employees realize. A typical employee at a supermarket makes about $8 an hour — depending upon their state’s minimum wage laws — but the cost of training their replacement could be more than $4,000, employers report. Business want workers who will blend well with long-term employees and who are willing to participate in business coaching and conflict resolution programs. We spend more time with our co-workers some weeks than we do at home, and it’s important for recruiters and HR managers to consider applicants’ personalities before making final hiring decisions.

If you are a manager who feels like you spend most of your time disciplining employees and refereeing interpersonal conflict, you may be right. Studies show that most managers report spending more than one-third of their time dealing with employees who are having a hard time dealing with each other. Most employees have been at their jobs for less than four years, and when managers look to promote and reward workers, they may choose to skip people who they see as surly or uncooperative in a group. Workers want to work for companies that value their contribution: sometimes, frustration can prevent clear communication at work.

Managing workplace stress can be difficult, and managers often report that they experience stress and anxiety due to conflicts among their team members. Business coaching that places an emphasis on positive group dynamics and focused teamwork can be effective at reducing the number of conflicts among employees, as long as everyone participates and tries to incorporate new information into their workplace behavior. Changing the culture of a company could include banning gossip and incorporating team building exercises to foster cooperation.

What business coaching can provide is twofold: helping employees minimize conflict and helping them maximize their productivity. About 20% of all employees report that they quit due to boredom, but sometimes it can help to actively seek out tasks at work. Typically, business coaching will track workplace motivation and behavior over the course of four to six months: long-term monitoring by an experienced third party can help management communicate better with their teams and help workers find ways to communicate more effectively with each other. If employee turnover has your management team stressed out, look for ways to improve the working environment for everyone: lowering the rate of employee turn over and raising company morale via strategic planning can go a long way toward impacting a business’ bottom line.