Conflict in the workplace: What causes it?

Conflict can arise at work when employees feel their needs and expectations are not being met.

What are the causes of workplace conflict?

Conflict at work can be caused by:

  • bad management
  • unequal treatment
  • uncertain job specifications
  • not enough training
  • lack of communication
  • uncomfortable work environment
  • inequality
  • bullying or harassment
  • changes in products, organisation charts, pay systems, or appraisals

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The major causes of workplace conflict

The following are other major causes of workplace conflict:

Conflicts of personalities

When a new employee joins the team or two co-workers suddenly disagree, it can upset the ‘personality blend’. People may respond in an unproductive or unhelpful way to challenging or difficult situations.

Unrealistic expectations and needs

When employers set unrealistic expectations or ignore employee needs, they can cause conflict at work. For example, setting hours that interfere with employees’ ability to fulfil their childcare duties.

Business values

Your organisation’s policies and procedures must reflect what most people consider fair. Giving someone a fair hearing or explaining why a decision was made are examples. When you need Workplace mediation, consider

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Unresolved workplace problems

An employee may ask to be transferred to another team due to their manager’s “aggressive” leadership style. The employee could have another reason, such as blaming their manager for not providing enough training or for not promoting them.

Workload increase

Some workplace conflicts are caused by people feeling they have been pushed too far. Resentment can also set in when they feel that their workload is not manageable.

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