Negative Effects of Conflict Within an Organization

by Jackie Lohrey; Updated September 26, 2017
Explanation wanted

Occasional conflicts are inevitable in a normal work environment, and you’ll never eliminate them all. Such conflicts can have a positive outcome, but they can also undermine your efforts to meet long-term organizational goals. Understanding the negative effects of conflict in your workplace underscores the importance of learning -- and teaching your employees -- conflict resolution skills.

Division Within the Ranks

A conflict is more than a simple disagreement. Not only does a conflict rarely resolve itself, but the longer it continues, the greater the chance that the situation will create division among your ranks. According to Mary Gorman White, an author and training coordinator for Mobile Technical Institute, the longer the principals stand their ground and refuse to consider any perspective or solution other than their own, the more it will divide your organization as other employees choose sides and further escalate the situation.

Decreased Productivity

Daily operational goals can become more difficult to achieve as a conflict situation decreases both morale and productivity. Doug Hovatter, an associate professor at West Virginia University, says that ongoing conflict can affect the company culture as it creates an environment of hostility, suspicion and distrust. Job satisfaction, productivity and your employees' commitment to the company can decrease as the negative effect on the overall company culture increases.

Unhealthy Competition

Unhealthy competition, or situations in which employees try to one-up each other at your company’s expense, may occur as clashing employees try to prove their own solution is the best way to proceed. Teamwork and team spirit can suffer as employees refuse to help one another for fear of being outdone and each works to bring the other down. Backstabbing, sabotage and open hostility are common results.

Increased Accidents and Injuries

Conflicts can also affect your business indirectly. According to the Centre for Conflict Resolution International, indirect consequences result not because conflict exists but because it's not addressed or it's addressed incorrectly. Conflict can produce a stressful work environment, which can distract employees and lead to increased unintentional errors, which in turn can result in more workplace accidents. A negative work environment plays a role in increased injuries in the shoulders, arms and back, according to the CCRI.

About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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