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Wages, Workloads and Friendship Wars – Top Causes of Office Conflict


Unfair workloads and inequality between colleagues are the leading causes of workplace conflict, according to new research.

A study of 1,000 UK adults in full or part-time employment – conducted by Cascade HR as part of The Conflict Report 2017 – found that differences in working hours or taking on bigger workload sizes are the biggest causes of squabbles for almost 1 in 3 (32%) UK colleagues.

Gossip and rumours were the second biggest issues (31%) followed by friendship groups and cliques (27%). Favouritism in the workplace was the cause of conflict for almost 1 in 3 (23%) British workers.

Salary differences, disparity over wages and promotions have also been known to cause issues for a fifth of workers, who say they have noticed a colleague’s attitude change if they have been overlooked for progression.

Worryingly, just under half (49%) of employees feel their company is effective at dealing with these problems in the workplace.

Oliver Shaw, CEO at Cascade HR, said:

“What is clear from these results is that a significant number of conflicts at work are started by colleagues feeling slighted in favour of other people. However, it’s concerning to see the number of workers who don’t feel their employer handles workplace conflict in an appropriate way.”

The study looked into the ways in which workers feel their employers could diffuse conflict and found more transparency across all levels of the business – particularly between management and the wider workforce – is key to the solution.

Holding regular team meetings was the answer to reducing conflict for 19% of people, while frequent social events and team building activities to improve and build camaraderie was the recommended remedy for 23% of those surveyed.

For nearly one in five workers (19%), better employee recognition –  such as employee of the month awards – would significantly help overcome the conflict issues and create a more positive work environment.

Improving official methods of conflict resolution would also be beneficial, according to nearly one in five workers, whilst 23% say regular pay reviews would make staff more content. 21% think flexible working hours would make their company a better place to work.

Shaw added:

“Opening up channels of communication between staff and management to explain why things are happening is a key way of dealing with the frustrations surrounding these issues. Employers should be seen to be taking conflict between members of staff seriously.”

Cascade is an award-winning provider of fully integrated HR software and HMRC recognised payroll software, suitable for organisations of any size.

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