Culture is the most important aspect of a company and is the very foundation of the organization itself. The common values and beliefs that make up this foundation help dictate not only how a company operates, but also how its employees interact with one another. There are several factors that can create cracks in the foundation, but one factor, in particular, can cause lasting damage: unresolved conflict.
According to a comprehensive workplace conflict study by publisher CPP, Inc., 85% of employees experience conflict in some form at work. While conflict may not be avoidable, embracing conflict and working toward resolving it within your company saves the culture in three ways.
Builds Employee Loyalty and Retention
In a tight labour market, employee retention is not only important to remain successful, but it is crucial to maintain a strong culture. If culture is comprised of the shared values of an organization, then your employees are the ones who live out the culture every day. Without your employees assimilating and maintaining shared values, your culture fades. And turnover can be even more detrimental. This means building employee loyalty and retention should be a company’s main focus. However, unresolved conflict can cause culture-maintaining employees to quit. Author David Cottrell stated, “people quit people before they quit companies.” Resolving conflict builds stronger ties between employees, causing loyalty between team members and higher retention levels.
According to the CPP study, employees spend an average of 2.8 hours a week dealing with workplace conflict. Over the course of a month, the average employee wastes a full day of productivity spent in conflict, amounting to 2.5 weeks of lost productivity annually. Moreover, 25% of employees have seen conflict result in absence and 9% say that conflict has caused a project to fail.
With the outlaying tax on time and productivity, conflict can derail your company’s ability to grow. If leaders acknowledge conflict and deal with it accordingly, they can maintain not only a competitive edge in their market but also a culture edge within their organization.
Deepens Core Values
Not every company has “People” listed as one of their core values, but most leaders would say they want a culture that embraces the value of others. When a company shows it cares about the wellbeing of their employees, it helps engrain and deepen the company’s values within their organization. And offering training to help team members work together is one way to do this. However, according to CPP, 60% of employees haven’t received basic conflict management training. And of those who have, 95% claim the training helped mitigate workplace conflict and achieve a mutually beneficial resolution. Not only does the training show value to its employees, it also helps deepen the working relationship between employees.
By avoiding conflict, you could allow cracks in the foundation of your company. However, investing time and energy into corporate conflict resolution techniques can save your culture by building employee loyalty and retention, improving productivity, and deepening core values.
Bruce Hein is franchise owner of the Sarnia office of Express Employment Professionals.