Kerry Fallon Horgan is a featured expert in this Career One Article
Workers who come into conflict with their colleagues are up to 70 per cent less productive in their jobs, risking more than their emotional well-being.
The ramifications of tension in the workplace go beyond those involved, with witnesses to the conflict also up to 40 per cent less productive than if the workplace was stress-free.
The time lost to strife between workers is estimated to cost Australian workplaces between $6 billion and $36 billion every year in downtime as workers down tools to respond to the harassment, the Know Bull Workplace Bullying Survey has discovered.
For workers and managers, it can cost them their career or put them on the slow path to success as their reduced output leads to a lower or poor performance; workers are overlooked for promotion; or possible loss of employment, for perpetrators, witnesses and victims.
Conflict can range from a heated verbal disagreement with a co-worker to severe bullying and harassment between workers or a manager and their staff.
The most common form of workplace bullying is verbal, Australian psychologist Toni Mellington has found.
She says a boss may continually make a public and unfair example of someone’s substandard work in order to make a point. Pestering people with jokes, actively ignoring them and making veiled threats are also common examples of verbal workplace conflict.
Flexibility At Work managing partner Kerry Fallon Horgan says conflict can result from workplace pressures such as long hours and having to continually produce more with fewer resources and the threat of retrenchment. “Conflict resolution starts with understanding what the (problem) issue is from the other person’s perspective and that means listening to them with empathy,” she says.
There are many bullying victims – the Productivity Commission says there are between 2.5 million and 5 million Australians who experience some aspect of bullying in their working lives.
But employees need to be aware of the “bystander effect”. Psychologist and expert on bullying Sarah McMahon says it is very common for instances of bullying to go on unreported. “The bystander effect is where colleagues turn a blind eye to bullying behaviour or actively participate in the bullying,” she says.
“Bullying thrives on silence and fear. But, your work colleagues also have a responsibility to ensure the workplace is safe for everyone and a legal obligation to report anything that makes the workplace ‘unsafe’ – including bullying”. By Ben Pike, Career One and in the Herald Sun, Courier Mail and Adelaide Advertiser
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