41+ Latest Workplace Conflict Statistics, Trends and Resolutions [2024]

December 19, 2023 0 Comments

Did you know conflict sparks innovation?

According to OPP, 1 in 10 workers credits conflict for sparking innovative ideas.

It also builds understanding, with 41%.

Conflict highlights where relationships and processes can improve.

However, the path is rarely smooth, as most employees face regular tensions at work.

Let’s explore this data on workplace challenges to find hidden empowerment opportunities.

Top Workplace Conflict Statistics: Editor’s Pick

  1. CPP research: workplace conflict costs companies $359 billion annually. [1]
  2. In the U.S.,385 million working days were lost due to conflict at work. [1]
  3. Per ACAS, corporations spend nearly £3,000 per person involved in a conflict. [2]
  4. Moreover, 27% of workplace conflicts resulted in personal insults or attacks. [3]
  5. 33% of the causes of conflict is due to overwhelming workloads without sufficient support. [4]
  6. Gen Z experiences conflict once a week. [5]
  7. According to The University of Oklahoma, managers spend 25% of their time resolving conflicts. [6]
*% of employees are constantly dealing with conflict at work

Conflict Occurrence Across Organizations

How often do workplace conflicts boil over?

The data says a striking 85% of staff face workplace conflicts to some degree – with over 25% witnessing arguments turn personal.

The ripple effects show as managers lose 25% of time mediating disputes.

As the vast majority grapple with persistent tensions across organizational lines, businesses must dedicate resources to defuse arguments and open communication channels to drive productivity.

Gen Z sees conflicts over once a week

As Gen Z enters management roles over the next 5-10 years, their expectations around communication styles and work arrangements could clash dramatically with older generations. [5]

26% of UK employees see conflict as a regular occurrence

While 20% of leaders shared the same sentiment, over one-third had encountered interpersonal conflicts, ranging from occasional isolated incidents to persistent problematic relationships.

Moreover, 15% reported experiencing bullying, while 8% encountered instances of harassment. [4]

According to the CPP 27% witnessed conflict turned to personal attacks

In the workplace, 27% of individuals have observed conflicts escalate into personal attacks. 

When tensions rise, a quarter of people opt to avoid meetings altogether.

Furthermore, 29% attribute disputes to unclear roles and responsibilities. [1]

Managers spend too much time putting out fires

The University of Oklahoma estimates that managers spend around 25% of their time mediating disputes – time taken away from more strategic priorities. [6]

PR Newswire delves into conflict variations among in-office, remote, and hybrid workers.

Among these groups:

In-office staff blame conflict on miscommunication more (56%) than hybrid (47%) or remote (36%). 

Hybrid workers cite transparency most (32% vs 17-18%). [7]

According to CPP, 85% of employees experience workplace conflict to some degree – with 8% dealing with it constantly. [1]

Workers asked how frequently they deal with conflict at work.

Here is the breakdown:

do employees experience conflict at work

The True Cost of Conflict

Did you know workplace conflicts cost a lot of money?

Globally, it drains around $359 billion due to decreased productivity and causes about 10% of project failures.

In the UK alone, it exceeds £28.5 billion annually.

Conflict at work leads to more absenteeism and personal attacks, which contributes to these high costs.

When managers spend time trying to solve these issues, it distracts them from important tasks and can harm a company’s innovation.

Ignoring these conflicts could lead to bigger problems for businesses.

Unresolved workplace conflicts are costing us billions

Like dropping a stone in a pond, the ripple effects of conflicts left unaddressed spread wide, sinking productivity and engagement.

2 hours per week are lost due to conflict

Globally, unresolved disputes cost companies $359 billion annually in lost productivity.

That’s 2 hours of distracted, stress-filled tension per employee each week. [1]

This translates to 385 million lost working days in the United States alone.

Moreover, 10% of workers attribute entire project failures to mismanaged conflicts, highlighting the costs in terms of missed innovation opportunities. [1]

When we realize every tension presents a choice point for understanding rather than reacting, more collaborative resolutions can ripple outward instead.

Per ACAS, the estimated cost of conflict at work is £28.5 billion [2]

This translates to an average of £1,028 for each UK employee annually, and nearly £3,000 (£2,939) per person involved in a conflict.

Breakdown:

Estimated costs of workplace conflictAnnual cost
Cost of resignation, absence, presenteeism£14.7 billion
Cost of informal resolution£0.25 billion
Cost formal procedure12.8 billion
Cost of Litigation0.77 billion
Total cost of conflict28.5 billion

25% have observed conflicts leading to sickness or absenteeism among employees

Moreover, more than a quarter of employees (27%) have experienced workplace disagreements that resulted in personal insults or attacks. [3]

impact of workplace conflict to employee

Primary Triggers Behind Disputes

personality differences drive nearly half of conflicts

Of course, taking this compassionate path first requires knowing common pitfalls.

Asked to reflect on their own experiences, employees revealed frequent triggers:

  • 49%: Clashes between personalities or egos [1]
  • 38%: Workplace stress [1]
  • 33%: Overwhelming workload without sufficient support [4]
  • 29%: Inadequate leadership
  • 26%: Dishonesty or lack of transparency
  • 23%: Issues related to line managers
  • 22%: Unclear job roles
  • 21%: Confusion about accountability
  • 18%: Conflicting values
  • 16%: Poor team composition
  • 15%: Prohibited topics, like inappropriate relationships
  • 14%: Problems with performance management
  • 13%: Instances of harassment or bullying
  • 10%: Perceived discriminatory practices [4]

While some triggers relate more to personal styles, many tie back to company culture and leadership.

The opportunity for coaching empathy, open communication, and managing stress exists at all levels.

Best Practices in Conflict Resolution

The good news is that with awareness and commitment, productive responses can outshine knee-jerk reactions. 

Employees illuminated several preferred management approaches for conflict resolution:

conflict resolution preferred by employees

42% favored more informal yet candid one-on-one discussions to air concerns transparently. [1]

40% voted for leaders to step in as mediators when disputes between teams run high leveraging their broader vantage point. 

Another 40% suggested providing clearer guidelines regarding expected codes of conduct. Even subtle confusion over ownership norms fractures working relationships and trust. [1]

However, these manager-driven strategies rely heavily on the bedrock of trust established through consistent, two-way communication long before tensions emerge.

Employees emphasized this relationship foundation holds the key:

  • 39% pointed to managers setting an example by exhibiting unity-focused behaviors themselves [1]
  • 29% underscored leaders avoiding ego-driven decisions which can exacerbate tensions unnecessarily [1]

The optimistic outlook persists, with only 6% of employees expressing doubt in management’s ability to improve conflict responses.

This suggests ample runway exists for organizations to pursue preventative measures proactively. 

United in understanding, we can transform trying workplace growing pains into progress.

Workplace Conflict FAQs

How often do employees face conflict at work?

A striking 85% of employees deal with some degree of conflict at work, with Gen Z experiencing disputes over once a week.

What is the most common conflict in the workplace?

Personality clashes and communication breakdowns are the most frequently cited causes of workplace conflict. 49% of professionals cite clashing egos and personalities as triggers.

How do you resolve conflicts?

  • Intervention. Early intervention is key. 
  • Communication. Address issues head-on through open and compassionate dialogue before relationships sustain permanent damage. 
  • Leadership Training. Seek mediation or conflict resolution training as needed to equip teams with the skills to handle tense conversations productively.

How much does conflict cost companies per year?

Globally, the price tag exceeds $359 billion annually from decreased productivity and innovation losses. In the UK, it surpasses £28.5 billion per year – £2,939 per employee enmeshed in disputes.

What is the upside of workplace conflict?

While often stressful, 1 in 10 associates credit conflict for sparking innovative ideas. 41% say it drove greater understanding between teams by highlighting areas for relationship and process improvements.

Summary

While conflicts spark inevitable tension, their hidden opportunity lies in revealing where collaboration can deepen. 

By pinpointing common triggers often tied to processes and culture in addition to personal overload, we take the first step from reaction to response.

Addressing roadblocks directly yet compassionately, especially with leadership modeling, conflict can forge resilience and unity rather than division.

There lies the upside to these uncomfortable yet necessary growing pains in working together.

For further intriguing statistics, facts and trends, we invite you to explore our website.

Sources

  1. CPP. Workplace conflict and how businesses can harness it to thrive
  2. ACAS. Estimating the costs of workplace conflict 
  3. OPP. celebrating the effective management of conflict at work
  4. CMOE. Workplace Conflict: Statistics That Reveal Its Cost 
  5. Bryant Digital Repository. The Future of the Workforce Depends on Generation Z
  6. The University of Oklahoma. Resolving Conflicts at Work: Employee Information 
  7. PR Newswire. New Research: Time Spent on Workplace Conflict Has Doubled Since 2008

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