Handling Workplace Conflict

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For employers, the recession comes with more than just fiscal woes. An economic slowdown brings the ever-present danger of employee conflict to the fore.

“Any time stress is increased, conflict is more likely to sharpen and to escalate more quickly,” said Carolyn Penny, director of the UC Davis Extension program Common Ground: Center for Cooperative Solutions. Workplace conflict is a real, and costly, problem for employers. In 2008, American businesses spent more than 2.8 hours per week managing conflict, or $359 billion paid hours, based on average hourly earnings of $17.95 for seasonally adjusted, nonfarm workers as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2008, according to the report “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses can Harvest it to Thrive.”

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