Unpleasant or difficult interactions between co-workers occur in every workplace. Most would not even consider these interactions a form of workplace conflict; despite this the reality is that conflict is conflict. And the vast majority of workplace conflict incidents are problematic.
Employers and managers often assume that these interactions are inconsequential events that occur and are then over, and that there would be little impact on absenteeism. However, a Swedish study found that an employee taking a sick day had a significant likelihood of an unpleasant interaction with a coworkers or supervisor the days immediately preceding the unexpected absence.
Specifically, as reported in the Calgary Herald, the study found:
When a person made a sick call, he or she was 4.68 times more likely than average to have had a personal problem with a colleague just prior to the first day of leave. This odds ratio was determined by comparing instances of such conflicts for this worker in the two days that preceded the sick call to the two weeks leading up to that.
Problems with a superior were 3.63 times more likely in the days that preceded a sick call, using the same criteria.
Also, workers who called in sick were 2.27 times more likely to anticipate a “very stressful work situation” – which could include having a bigger-than-normal workload with limited staff – on the first day they took leave.
Workplace conflict is expensive, and it is a far more common occurrence than most employers realize.
Workplace conflict is typically a not-out-the-ordinary interaction between coworkers. In addition, employees may have very different perceptions of the interactions – some identifying them as unpleasant while others not. The interaction cannot always be objectively measured, but this does not diminish the negative impact on the employee who perceives the interaction as unpleasant.
In addition, these seemingly insignificant interactions often blossom into larger workplace conflict issues that cost employers much more than a single absence.
Through training and focused teaming building activities that focus on communication and conflict resolution skill building, employers can proactively address workplace conflict, even reducing the presence and impact of even the slightest unpleasant interaction.
- The Cost of Workplace Conflict
- Reducing Workplace Conflict: Employee Training
- Hospital Nurses & Workplace Conflict
- Competition In Team Building Events