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Can HR tech ease workplace conflict?

Insight | HR | Conflict | Employee Relations

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Workplace conflict is mostly unavoidable - particularly when businesses hire strong-minded talent with big ideas. Egos clash and disagreements ensue, often leaving your team reeling and struggling to pick up performance levels. It negatively impacts on productivity and can even result in employees disengaging with their workload and the broader company.

There are ways of ensuring these issues do not go on to cause more significant problems. Nipping conflicts in the bud can prevent them growing into substantial issues, which can keep levels of job satisfaction up and can ensure productivity is not lost.

With increasing adoption of HR technology, can it provide a tool that could help your organisation ease conflict between workers?

Provide options for discussing problems

The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution has found that workplace conflict costs UK businesses £33 billion a year and that 80 percent of disputes have “a significant impact on the smooth running of the business”. Research such as this proves the importance of having measures in place to limit conflict. This has fuelled some startup companies to develop technology to help improve relations between colleagues.

This is seen with the creation of tools like Bravely, which provides a platform connecting employees with so-called “conflict coaches” and “people professionals” known as pros. They can discuss all matters relating to workplace stress confidentially. The firm says this allows workers to “take the first step toward resolution - dealing with stressful moments as they happen, and developing the skills they need to move forward”.

The company points out that 80 percent of people who left jobs in the tech industry did so because they felt they were maltreated. Providing a safe space for your workers to go to discuss problems can help them work through the issue and establish a solution. This can be done through an anonymous web chat service with established managers, or external professionals, for example.

Encourage collaboration

Companies are increasingly working in different offices - often in different countries altogether - so they realise the benefits of collaborative software. However, this technology does not just provide a space for workers to discuss projects; it can actively help to reduce conflicts.

According to The Harvard Business Review, collaboration is key to driving new ideas. Contributors Jeff Weiss and Jonathan Hughes argue: “The disagreements sparked by differences in perspective, competencies, access to information, and strategic focus within a company generate much of the value that can come from collaboration across organisational boundaries.”

It is therefore vital to ensure that workers can discuss ideas and to keep their colleagues updated on their progress. This is why tools like Trello and Slack can provide significant value - they allow teams to do just that. They offer the ability to organise tasks and post new iterations of project elements.

Gather evidence

Some companies may also want to take it a step further and pay closer attention to their employees to avoid conflicts growing into a cause for concern.

Screen monitoring software can provide a solution to many problems. Although often used for businesses to monitor the progress of specific projects, this technology can also be used to help clarify issues at the heart of many conflicts.

Marketing agency Exposure Ninja founder Tim Kitchen said his firm had used the technology to investigate an issue when one worker allegedly said something “inflammatory”. He explained that managers went through the material and found screenshots of the conversation. They were then able to present the evidence to the warring employees and remedy the problem.

When incorporating this technology, however, it is essential to ensure that workers are aware they are being monitored and to comply with all privacy regulations.


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 24th January 2018

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