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One in four faces ongoing conflict at work

More than one in four workers has ongoing disputes with colleagues, according to new research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

According to the CIPD’s new report, Getting Under the Skin of Workplace Conflict, 38% of UK employees have experienced some form of interpersonal conflict at work in the past year. This includes 29% who have had isolated disputes and a further 28% who report ongoing difficult relationships.


Conflict manifests itself in a number of ways at work, according to the report. Lack of respect is a major gripe, cited by 61% of respondents. When conflict does arise, it’s most often perceived as being with line managers or other superiors (36%). One in four said that their line manager actively created conflict.


However, the most common cause of conflict is a clash of personality or working style (44%) rather than a conflict of interest. Individual performance competence and target setting are also among the issues most likely to spark conflict, with promotions or contractual terms of employment being less influential.


Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, said:  

“All too often, employers brush workplace conflict aside, putting it down to a difference of opinion, but it’s clear that it has a serious impact on our working relationships, wellbeing and productivity.”

Line managers have a crucial role to play he added. 

“We need managers who can both build robust teams, where challenges can be made in a non-threatening way, and nip conflict in the bud before it has the chance to escalate. These are not generally seen as part of a core skills set for line managers and that view needs to change.”

The CIPD’s report found that conflict causes one in ten people to change role or leave a job altogether. Other ramifications include increased stress, reduced productivity and a rise in sick leave.

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