What’s the first word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of “workplace conflict”? We’re guessing that super fun or awesome or beneficial aren’t exactly at the top of the list. In a recent study, Wiley asked 12,000 Everything DiSC® participants (from executives to individual contributors) this same question, and their responses were pretty much what you’d expect: drama, negativity, frustration, inefficient, toxic etc.
It’s no surprise that the general sentiment around workplace conflict is almost exclusively negative. These responses are most likely driven by the many toxic behaviors that provoke conflict and wreak havoc on our collective workplace cultures.
The fact is, destructive conflict drags down workplace efficiency. In our same study, 70% of managers, supervisors, directors, and executives said that interpersonal conflict negatively impacts efficiency in their departments. On top of that, when asked how much time they spend dealing with conflict, this group claimed an average of 3.2 hours each week or nearly a MONTH a year dealing with conflict rather than performance-driving initiatives!
This is where lacking the social and emotional skills to effectively navigate conflict can cause other areas in an organization to seriously suffer. We’re all human, and we all experience conflict, but it seems almost incredulous that destructive conflict is occurring on such a widespread, consistent scale.
Destructive conflict has more to do with employee turnover than you might think. Out of the 12,000 people we surveyed, 40% said they have left their jobs in the past due to unhealthy personal conflict on the job. We’re talking about major life changes here, all because of workplace conflict. But we’re also talking about one of the most critical components to a strong organization: employee retention.
“The business ramifications are enormous,” writes Theresa Agovino in her SHRM article, To Have and to Hold. “Each employee departure costs about one-third of that worker’s annual earnings, including expenses such as recruiter fees, temporary replacement workers and lost productivity, according to the Work Institute.”
Organizations may find it tempting to focus on metrics like revenue, profit, or growth. But when these organizations take a step back and place emphasis on the things that can’t necessarily be measured—like arming their workforce with the social and emotional skills to effectively navigate conflict—the impact on culture (and, by extension, the bottom line) can be profound.
While conflict can be incredibly uncomfortable, it is an inevitable part of human life, and our workplaces. It’s also not all bad. Conflict, when productively engaged in, can inspire some of our greatest breakthroughs and innovations.
With the help of a self awareness tool like Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict, you can start to shift your culture’s mindset around conflict from evade to engage.
As originally published on Everything DiSC