This article was drafted by the attorneys of Ogletree Deakins, a labor and employment law firm representing management, and is reprinted with permission. This information should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Conflict at work is inevitable. Despite this reality, there are many steps that employers can take to avoid and resolve workplace strife. According to a 2014 study, office workers spend, on average, 2.5 hours per week trying to resolve conflict—an expenditure of time that translates into an estimated $359 billion in lost revenue in the United States alone.
My experience as an independent workplace investigator has given me a bird’s eye view of workplace conflict as it unfolds. In my review of allegations made by complainants and the evidence I have uncovered while conducting workplace investigations, I’ve come to see a few patterns. One pattern is that there almost always seems to be a point in time—a decision made (or not made), an action taken (or not taken), or something said (or not said or stated poorly)—when the conflict I’m investigating could have been avoided.
The following two-part series offers a 10-point checklist addressing managerial best practices for conflict prevention and resolution while identifying potential “triggering” events or issues and turning points at which companies may be able to take proactive steps to avoid strife, improve workplace culture, boost employee productivity and loyalty and, one hopes, make their businesses employers of choice.