Workplace conflict results in billions of dollars in lost hours, injuries
Researchers said U.S. companies spend more than 2.8 hours per week addressing workplace conflict, which equates to approximately $359 billion in paid hours in 2008. However, lost time isn't the only concern for employers. According to the report, roughly one in three employees (33 percent) said that conflict has led to personal injury or attacks, while one in five (22 percent) reported that it has led to illness or absence from work.
"These figures should be a wake-up call to industry leaders," said Jeff Hayes, CEO of CPP Inc. "Companies are losing billions of dollars because of poorly managed conflict, and we expect that figure to grow in a down economy as stress and workload -- two of the biggest causes of conflict -- rise."
Hayes said the study also uncovered a significant variance between managers' appraisal of their own ability to manage conflict and the observations of the employees under them. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of managers felt that they're skilled at dealing with conflict. However, only slightly more than one-fifth of employees (22 percent) said that their managers deal with conflict well.
"If acknowledgement of a problem's existence is the first step toward solving it, this gap between perception and reality is troubling," said Rich Thompson, director of research at CPP Inc.
Positive conflict resolution corresponds with specialized training. Researchers said positive outcomes are directly tied to conflict management training. The study found that employers with a high incidence of training reported high proportions of positive outcomes, while those organizations where training is less prevalent reported low proportions of positive outcomes.
"This research clearly shows the astounding amount of workplace debate, disagreement, and negotiation that take place in business," said Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin & Associates, an analyst firm in enterprise learning and talent management. "If high performing business and human resource leaders are to turn conflict into positive business change, they must take the time to coach and train their employees to effectively deal with differences of opinion, style, and points of view."
November 4, 2008
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