Workplace conflicts arise from many causes. Conflicts between employer and employee escalate when both parties cannot see past their own points of view. That's where a mediator comes in to help them find a common ground by taking the time to view the conflict in a more objective way and to consider the other party's perspective.

Meet Basic Needs

An employer and employee will be in conflict when the compensation paid to the worker is not sufficient to meet what are considered basic needs. For example, when public workers work for years without a raise, even to adjust for inflation, they can feel disgruntled and betrayed by their employer. The organization will likely experience decreased worker productivity and increasing conflicts in the workplace. Employees often do not feel engaged and loyal to their employers with inadequate pay.


Workplace conflict arises when one or more employees are victims of harassment. If employees believe that the management team tolerates or permits offensive conditions at work and doesn't take steps to end the harassment, these employees will resent the employer even more. They will lose trust in their employer, and their disgruntled dispositions will negatively affect employee morale and external customer experiences. Employers must legally and ethically provide a harassment-free workplace.

Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints

Workplace conflicts can lead to employees filing complaints and grievances with an employer's equal employment opportunity office, which could be resolved internally, or more seriously, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency. These types of conflicts are solved by a third-party if a determination is made that an employee's rights were violated, such as the right to freedom from discrimination.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Employees might not want to file a complaint against their employer, such as their boss. They might prefer to sit down and talk directly with the person or persons who are the source of the conflict. If an employer has an internal employee or an external contractor specializing in alternative dispute resolution, two parties can sit down and resolve their conflict directly. With this type of dispute resolution, the parties will usually agree to be bound by the outcome of the arbitration.