Identifying Conflict and Bullying in the Workplace
Conflict can be identified as a disagreement and/or misunderstanding of needs or goals.
Actions that can be identified as bullying:
Intimidation, Belittling Remarks, Inaccurate Accusation, Persistent Criticism, Ignoring/Excluding, Public Humiliation, Bawling Out, malicious Rumour Setting up to Fail, Work Overloading.
Studies show that:
Incidences of bullying have been observed by 77% of people.
The proportion of individuals who felt they had been bullied at some point in their working lives is a staggering 53%
Targets who reported the abusive misconduct to the perpetrator.s (bully.s) manager and asked for relief, elicited positive, helpful responses in only 18% of cases.
A substantial complaint by employees who suffer from workplace bullying is that they feel there is nowhere to turn for help. Managers are expected to diffuse and manage aggression.
Hidden Costs of Conflict
Absenteeism: The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress and many studies suggest that stress is a byproduct of a conflicted work environment. Stress has seen a 316% increase as a reason for absenteeism since 1995.
Turnover: The turnover cost of one employee can be anywhere from 30% to 150% of the employees annual salary.
- Severance costs
- Benefits costs (compensation, etc.)
- Recruitment & Staffing Cycle time
- Training & Development
- Lost Productivity
- Grievance Filing
Morale: Unresolved conflicts adversely affect employee and management morale. Each side becomes disillusioned with the other and with its inability to affect the other.s point of view. Time better spent on productive tasks is diverted to discussion of problems with peers.
In Canada, employers are liable for the misconduct of supervisors.
Liability stems from employers. control over the creation and maintenance of the work environment: roles, responsibilities behavioral expectations and workplace health or toxicity.
"The average jury verdict for wrongful termination cases is more than $600,000. Companies lose twice as many cases as they win. And by the time they lose, they also have lost control of how much it will cost them.
Consider a case that began as a workplace dispute involving a $55,000-a-year employee, then escalated to a $500,000 complaint, then finally became a $28 million court judgment against the employer."
In the recent Kavana Decision, Newfoundland was ordered to pay nearly $865,000 to one of its employees because the province failed to protect the workers from psychological harassment.
No amount of money won or lost can heal or repair a work environment once it has been tainted by harassment.
Return on Investment
Unlike litigation, mediation resolves conflicts without further escalating tensions. This is invaluable to employers who want to maintain good employee relationships and vice versa.
Studies show up to 30% of a managers time is spent dealing with conflict.
Example: the time a manager spends dealing with conflict is noted for a 5-day period. This manager typically spends 10 hours in a 40-hour week dealing with conflicts between employees.
After employees attend conflict resolution training, the manager's time spent on conflict resolution is reduced by 3 hours per week.
It is important for top management to commit to maintaining an employee relationship program.