Office workers spend more than 2.5 hours each week trying to manage conflict. That equates to a whopping $359 billion in lost time each year. What’s more, a Canadian study found that unresolved conflict could influence absenteeism to the tune of $16.1 billion per year. As if the monetary losses weren’t enough, unresolved conflict can also bring about a decline in employee health, morale and productivity.
Put a positive spin on conflict and teach employees how to effectively resolve it. Here are some conflict resolution tips and some ideas for giveaways to boost your training efforts.
- Avoid ambiguity: The top three causes of conflict in the workplace are opposing priorities, lack of communication and misunderstanding the urgency of tasks. Providing staff with a clear vision of the three W’s—what needs to be done, by whom and when—is step one in avoiding conflict.
- Set ground rules: Let your core values guide how your organization and its people deal with conflict. Your core values help not only to guide employee behavior, they can also provide a clear path to company decision making. Integrate core values into conflict resolution training exercises. Ask employees to brainstorm how they’ve demonstrated core values at work or how they’ve referenced them when dealing with conflict. Keep core values top of mind with an imprinted phone stand or lunch cooler.
- Practice basic communication: Simple tips—such as using “I” statements, restating what’s been said and summarizing what was heard—are keys to having an open conversation about conflict. Help employees practice by forming groups of two. Then provide a situation that may cause conflict and have them take a stab at hearing each other out. Reinforce the steps to basic communication with custom pocket buddy notebooks or iPad® portfolios.
- Shift your position on conflict: Most people do not enjoy drumming up conflict. However, your organization will benefit if you can encourage employees to shift how they think about conflict—seeing it as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance. Help staff see that conflict presents an opportunity to understand individual differences, identify process improvements, work on personal development, and practice giving and receiving feedback. At your next training, divide teams into small groups and give them a problem to solve. While discussing outcomes, drive your point home by having employees highlight the number of unique solutions to each problem. Reward teams that brainstorm the most solutions with a gift—logo’d stylus pens or microfiber cleaning cloths are good choices.
- Reward teamwork: Conflict is inevitable when working in teams. But so is innovative, collaborative work. Ensure employees don’t go it alone to avoid conflict by rewarding teamwork over individual contributions. Group goals and group rewards encourage teams to work together. Consider team training gifts—imprinted Contigo® sport bottles or Bluetooth® ear buds make great incentives for working together.
Conflict is inevitable. But a decline in employee health, morale, productivity and your organization’s bottom line doesn’t have to be. Practice these conflict resolution tips and throw in some training giveaways to drive your message home.