4 Tips for Helpfully Mediating Conflict Among Staff

Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable in all workplaces, including the public sector. After all, employees with many different types of personalities, needs, and expectations are all working together in one place. It is up to managers and HR leaders to mediate conflicts so that the work environment remains one of productivity and positivity.

Rising tensions at work left unchecked can disrupt productivity and negatively impact everyone involved. Learning how to handle workplace conflict should be a priority for every manager. The key to managing workplace conflict is to find solutions that reduce disruption and create a productive, harmonious environment that everyone enjoys working in.

How Staff Conflict Can Be Harmful in the Workplace

No workplace is ever going to be problem-free. But you can focus on creating a workplace culture that maximizes employee performance and productivity and prioritizes effective workplace conflict resolution.

Conflict can occur in a variety of ways, including passive non-cooperation, insults, angry outbursts, and even bullying. The organization may experience disruptions, absenteeism, decreased productivity, high turnover, and even the termination of employees involved.

A Pollack Peacebuilding Systems report illustrated that 85% of employees said they experienced some type of conflict at work, and the top causes of workplace conflict were clashes over conflicting personalities and egos, work stress, and heavy workloads.

Clashes between employees left unchecked can fester and produce a negative work environment. Bullying, harassment, and unfair treatment can have a detrimental effect on both organizations and employees.

How to Spot Conflict Among Staff at Work

Signs of conflict at work can be easily missed if you don’t know what to look for. Here are a few indications that unresolved conflict could be causing issues in your public sector organization.

  • A decrease in productivity: Employees involved in workplace conflict may show a decrease in productivity.
  • Excessive absenteeism: Employees who feel uncomfortable or involved in interpersonal problems at work may call in sick or simply be absent.
  • High turnover rate: Your organization may experience a high turnover rate and decreased retention rate. The average rate of employee turnover was 57.3% in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Stress and anxiety among employees involved in the conflict: Anxiety, and stress can show in many ways, like issues managing staff and dealing with problems in the workplace.
  • A change in interaction with other people at work: If you see an employee give a short answer to questions, make odd comments, and exhibit avoidant behaviors, they could be involved in conflict with other workers.

How Public Sector Organizations Can Resolve Workplace Conflict

It’s essential to be able to recognize the signs of workplace conflict and have a framework in place for mediating issues between employees. Here are some helpful tips on how public sector organizations can resolve employee conflicts and create a positive and productive workplace.

1. Establish Employee Conflict Resolution Training and Resolution Policies

It is the responsibility of HR professionals to develop and implement workplace procedures and policies to settle and mediate conflicts at work. These procedures should be designed to facilitate communication between workers and track the metrics associated with the cost of resolving conflict.

HR professionals play a key role in settling these issues, especially if a manager and their personnel cannot reach a resolution on their own. That’s why employee conflict resolution training is so critical to managing these issues at work. And it’s not just for managers and HR employees; workers can benefit from this training as well.

2. Intervene Before the Problem Further Escalates

It’s important to identify work conflicts and intervene before matters escalate further. Resentment and tension can build over time, and the results can be an explosive interaction that negatively impacts everyone in that department. As these signs may be difficult to recognize, especially in hybrid work environments, creating a culture that encourages open communication is helpful.

3. Treat Everyone With Respect and Dignity

No matter what problems arise, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Establishing a company culture that celebrates diversity and includes everyone makes your organization an employer of choice and will likely help increase retention rates. It also helps in instances of workplace conflict. Treating all parties involved in conflict with dignity and respect and validating their feelings makes everyone feel understood and heard. This fosters open communication among the workers involved, helping them to reach a resolution more effectively.

4. Offer Multiple Solutions

One of the hardest things about mediating conflict at work is finding a solution that everyone can agree on. Everyone involved has different viewpoints making it hard to satisfy everyone. If it’s possible, provide a choice of several solutions. This strategy works well because when workers have more than one positive resolution to choose from, they feel empowered.

Key Takeaways

Conflicts between employees are inevitable, but your response as an HR professional is the key to diffusing the situation or escalating it. That’s why learning how to mediate workplace conflict is so critical to a positive and productive work environment.

Treat everyone with dignity and respect and promote a workplace culture that welcomes diversity and fosters inclusivity. Develop and implement processes for managing problems between employees and establish employee conflict resolution training and protocol so that conflict can be identified and addressed before it escalates and harms the workplace.

Learn how you can continue to improve your public sector HR practices so that you can provide a healthy and productive environment for everyone in the workplace.

Are you noticing a decrease in productivity because of workplace conflicts? Learn how to mediate workplace conflict in your organization.
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CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.