The Negative Effects of Employee Conflict [Case Study]

While your company strives hard to reach its goals, there can be underlying problems that can lead to bigger and disastrous ones. As each worker has their own work style and personality, employee conflict can arise. 

Conflicts between employees can happen when there is a difference in opinions regarding business projects, workload assignments and even work ethics. While employers tend not to get involved in conflict, conflicts need to be addressed before they can spiral out of control. 

Conflict in the Workplace

There can be a couple of reasons why employee conflicts happen. According to Real business, these are among the top causes of employee conflict: 

  • Poor communication
  • Two faced colleagues
  • Clash in personalities
  • Slackers
  • Competitiveness
  • Office romance
  • Annual leave
  • Brown-noser
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Not doing the washing-up

Some in the list may be too familiar to you and some may have surprised you. By knowing the causes of employee conflict, you can better know how to resolve employee conflict

Another surprising fact about employee conflict is how prevalent it is. According to Harvard Business Review, 98% of employees have experienced incivility. If overlooked, employee conflict can endanger much of a company’s operations. 

Here are the negative effects of employee conflicts:


Work alone can induce a lot of stress to an employee. Having a conflict with someone in the workplace can amplify it to a point where an employee quits. Conflicts don’t help with employee retention.

According to Workplace Fairness West, “conflict and the poor management of conflict has been a propelling motivation for employees to exit organizations.”

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel development concluded that 1 in 3 employees have left their job due to employee conflict. Moreover, if workers are stressed, they are more prone to committing mistakes and becoming more irritable.

Here are the impacts of workplace stress according to Saba:

  1. Higher absenteeism
  2. High turnover rate
  3. Poor time keeping
  4. Lower employee engagement
  5. Lower productivity and poor performance
  6. Low employee morale
  7. Increased employee complaints
  8. Decreased motivation
  9. Poor health
  10. More accidents

Regardless if employees are stressed out due to employee conflict or not, it’s ideal to educate them on how to deal with work stress. Do this before the impact of chronic stress in the workplace affect the personal lives of the employees. 

Decrease in Productivity

Employee conflict devastates productivity. According to the CPP Global Human Capital, U.S. employees waste around 2.8 working hours a week involving themselves in conflict. That’s just the start.

Here’s a result from a poll by the Harvard Business Review:

  • 48% of employees decreased their work effort on purpose.
  • 47% of employees decreased their time spent at work on purpose.
  • 38% of employees decreased the quality of their work on purpose.
  • 80% of employees lost work time because of thinking about the incident.
  • 63% of employees wasted work time because of avoiding the offender.
  • 66% of employees reported that their performance got worse.
  • 78% of employees reported that their loyalty to the organization declined.
  • 12% of employees stated that they left their job because of being treated in an uncivil manner.
  • 25% of employees admitted that they took their frustrations out on the customers.

Businesses with happy employees thrive. Meanwhile, a business with a toxic company culture is in shambles. Conflicts can distracts the employees from focusing on their work and it can lead to failed projects and losses in sales. 


According to iEduNote, when left unmediated and unresolved, conflicts can result in intense, violent situations. This can result in hefty legal costs due to lawsuits between employees and even the company itself. 

According to Mediate, an American business loses around $36 billion a year due to violence in the workplace. 

What’s more is that employees and even some HR professionals don’t know what to do when there is violence in their workplace. Here are the statistics from SHRM’s 2019 study on Workplace Violence:

  • 48% of HR professionals mentioned that there has been workplace violence in their organization.
  • 25% mentioned that an incident occured within the last year.
  • 30% of employees and 19% of HR professionals think they are not ready to deal with violence in the workplace. 
  • Only 45% of Americans are aware of workplace violence prevention programs at their companies. 

Violence in the workplace ruins a company’s reputation and it results in a loss of revenue and key employees. Moreover, a lot of employees consider company culture as one of their main reasons for leaving or staying at their jobs. 

If conflict grows out of control, it can be difficult to reverse its negative effects on the employees.

Ruins Company’s Reputation

According to Sheridan Solutions, when a company fails to manage conflicts within its workforce, people then assume that they are unable to control and manage their employees well. This affects their reputation at a considerable amount.

A company’s reputation is important to its success. According to Insperity, once tainted, gaining trust from future employees, customers and investors becomes difficult. This can also result in a loss of revenue when conflicts escalate and get out of hand.

Loss of Revenue

From loss in productivity to lawsuits, employee conflicts can cause a huge financial meltdown. Moreover, conflicts detract the workflow and this can have a disastrous effect on customer service and satisfaction. 

Entrepreneur says that around 10% of conflicts lead to the failure of business projects. This means that with each failed project, the company can be losing millions of dollars. 

Running an organization shouldn’t just be about results but should also be about looking after the workforce. The quality of the employees is the quality of the organization. A toxic company culture is poison to the organization.

Before a conflict reaches a critical point, remedy it. Strive to instill the impact of happiness at work in your organization. Make your employees happy and they’ll do the same for your customers.