No workplace is without its problems, especially when it comes to the common issue of tensions and disagreements between employees. Workplace conflicts will always occur, no matter the level of seniority or individual character of a person. Ultimately, anyone is suspect to falling into discord with a fellow worker.

According to CIPD, 38% of UK employees experience interpersonal conflict per year, with “differences in personality or styles of working” being cited as the most common contributor. 

However, while this is a common issue, the best businesses will recognise that workplace tensions will not necessarily disappear on their own and that they need to be combatted quickly and efficiently.

To do this, businesses need to be able to identify and ease tensions between individuals to heal working relationships and maintain a professional working environment.

So, how exactly can your business achieve this? 

Identify any issues and tensions quickly with a root cause analysis 

When an instance of conflict or tension in the workplace occurs, it is important that your business is equipped with the tools and knowledge to recognise the cause of the conflict and diffuse the situation quickly. 

This is important for several reasons. Primarily, tensions between employees can damage morale, make the work environment uncomfortable for the wider team and slow progress. This can be damaging not only for company culture but also for profitability and productivity. 

One great way of identifying the issues that are causing problems within your business, as well as highlighting areas that could be improved in the long term, is through a root cause analysis

As mentioned in our blog on how to conduct an effective root cause analysis, they should be conducted by focusing on these four areas: 

  • Identifying the problem 
  • Collecting evidence and data based on the problem 
  • Identifying the root cause 
  • Taking steps to find a solution to the problem 

By following the above steps, the process of discovering the actual causes of tensions within your business becomes far more straightforward, helping to speed up the process of diffusing conflicts and getting back to business. 

Creating an inclusive working environment for all

By fostering an inclusive work environment, your business can reduce the likelihood of tensions occurring and encourage individuals to feel comfortable enough to come forward with any issues that they are having.

One way that your business can achieve this is by promoting open communication networks throughout the workplace. Through encouraging an “open door policy” at a leadership level, employees will feel comfortable approaching team leaders with issues that may have arisen with their colleagues, as well as any other problems.

This is inherently healthier than allowing individuals to internalise their issues with other team members, which could lead to far greater tension in the long run, alongside the detrimental effect that this will have upon their satisfaction within their role.

Ensuring that your business has open communication networks is made even more crucial when tensions between employees evolve to be much more damaging in their nature, for example, when conflicts lead to bullying or harassment. Around 23% of Britons have suffered from bullying at work, which shows that this is not an uncommon problem. 

By taking measures to give employees the opportunity to voice concerns with a senior team member, it is possible to tackle negative behaviours such as bullying in the workplace before it becomes a serious issue. 

In summary 

It is undeniable that tensions and conflicts are an inescapable reality of the working world. However, it is the responsibility of your business to make every reasonable effort to identify and resolve issues between employees quickly. 

By adopting a root cause analysis to get to the heart of issues as well as encouraging open communication so that individuals feel comfortable coming forward, the business can start to reduce long term tensions.

Here at MDA Training, we are able to tailor training programmes based on the specific needs of your business. Whether you require training to improve communication and interpersonal skills or to learn how to conduct a root cause analysis, we can structure a programme that provides delegates with the skills they need to handle workplace conflicts in a professional manner.