Calculating the Costs of Conflict in Your Workplace Team

I’m about to give you a cold, hard truth: You have conflict in your workplace - yes, you. But here is some good news: Conflict is a natural occurrence, any time there are two or more people in the same space who have a divergent idea, need, or want. It’s normal, inevitable, and every organization experiences it.

Conflict does not have to be negative. In fact, proactively engaging with conflict is a proven best practice, creating an environment of robust communication, high engagement, and innovative contributions to business growth. Constructive conflict is perhaps the most effective innovation generator you’ve never heard of.

In contrast, workplace teams who experience negative outcomes from conflicts will have higher costs, less innovation, and are more likely to fail in their projects. Unaddressed or poorly managed conflict could cost your business in more ways than you might think. So, the question is not should you start talking about conflict in your organization, rather …

What is your next step toward harnessing the power of construction conflict?

As a Conflict Advisor, much of my work is driven by crisis in the work team. In these cases, someone has realized (intuitively) that the costs of conflict in the team has risen high enough to finally do something about it, and they call us. Wouldn’t we all rather see a scenario in which they’ve gotten help before the situation became costly and destructive?

Yes, we would. Which is why we set out to build a single calculator that would take the guesswork out of the decision-making process, by showing the cost of conflict in real dollars. The tool is called the Resologics Conflict Calculator™, and uses real data collected from our team-conflict experience tied together with in-depth industry estimates of data such as average wages, turnover costs, etc. It’s a quick, elegant tool that gives enough evidence to determine a need for change. If you are a curious, scientific sort, supporting data can be found right here.

Less than five minutes and I know that I have got to do something about what is going on within our team. Costing us a fortune!
— Startup CEO, Bay Area, CA USA

This is my recommended first step to you (and our clients): Assess the possible effect of negative conflict in your team(s) and put a dollar value on it. You’ll be able to see conflict in a whole new way, and start a conversation within your workplace that is different, quantifiable, and actionable. You’ll be in a position to make sound decisions on conflict engagement processes that will give you that power of constructive, productive, creative conflict.

The Conflict Calculator™ estimates what the team has spent so far, and how much it will spend in the future on unproductive outcomes from conflict. Features:

  • Calculates multiple costs
  • Instant, confidential on-line access
  • Full report of results
  • Free to use

A partial list of costs from negative conflict outcomes

Not to be a scare-tactics kind of guy, but these are just some of the measurable, significant conflict costs we see in our work and in the data we researched:

  • WASTED TIME - productivity cost; the organization paid for time and got nothing.
  • WASTED OPPORTUNITY - services not performed so no billable hours or production toward service happened.
  • LOST TIME - conflict-related absenteeism, sick leave, low or lost performance.
  • STAFF TURNOVER - severance/termination package costs (voluntary or involuntary), recruitment and restaffing costs, training and development costs associated with new replacement employees, loss of human capital investment in skilled employees, loss of opportunity for billable hours during transition and training.
  • LEGAL SUPPORT - fees and time associated with inside and/or outside support from attorneys, arbitrators, and decision-making entities.
  • NON-LEGAL SUPPORT - fees and time associated with inside and/or outside support from mediators, therapists, counselors, specialty trainers, and other conflict crisis managers.

Then there are the costs of the toxicity of negative conflict that are less-easily quantifiable but no less real, such as: compromised reputation. difficulty in attracting high-quality talent, degraded decision quality, market entry delay, bad press, lower job motivation and morale, higher health costs, erosion of shareholder value and diminished funding potential.

Whether or not you use the assessment tool I’ve described here, I encourage you to take those steps to evaluate your own workplace environment. Conflict resiliency is not just our passion, but an emerging trend worldwide in which Organizational Ombuds offices are providing high ROIs for thousands of organizations in all sectors.  

And I invite you to take the Resologics Conflict Calculator™ for a spin, test it out, and let us know how it worked for you. Share your responses in the comments below, or schedule a conversation with us here to talk more about embracing constructive conflict.

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Mark Batson Baril

Mark is a conflict advisor and ombudsman for organizational teams. If you would like to contact Mark please e-mail him at mark@resologics.com

Resologics provides conflict advising services to organizations to help them avoid disputes, optimize team dynamics for better outcomes, and reduce costs. The resologics team can be reached at 800.465.4141 | team@resologics.com | www.resologics.com