According to a 2008 study commissioned by CPP Inc., the average employee spends 2.1 hours every single week dealing with workplace conflict in some way. The study also found that for
workplaces with more severe conflict issues this average may be as high as six hours per week per employee.
The unique positioning of support line staff serves to provide unfiltered information that can produce insight into larger issues and resolutions. Staff can be a source of detection and early warning for new issues and a source of creative suggestions to improve existing processes within the organization. Through regular communication with your organization regarding these emerging concerns (with no attribution, to safeguard those who have come to us) your organization has an early warning system that can surface and resolve problems before they consume valuable time and energy.
Support line staff can also facilitate employee understanding of workplace policies such as harassment, bullying and respect in the workplace. Employees may be reluctant to approach HR with their concerns due to fear of reprisal or that it may affect their chances of promotion or their reputation within the organization. Ensuring another option is available will assist in resolving these issues early and limit interruption of work.
Managers who may be facing a difficult performance review can utilize the support line as an opportunity to discuss concerns beforehand. Staff can guide the manager through steps and allow them to practice scenarios for greater success. Similarly staff can support employees who require preparation for difficult conversations or negotiations. Employees who are trying to manage a challenging relationship with a colleague or are in conflict with a manager have the opportunity to explore the situation, their goals and options for resolution.
A support line can reduce the amount of time that managers and HR professionals deal with unproductive conflict. According to the Washington Business Journal, May 2005, the typical manager spends 25-40% of their time dealing with workplace conflicts. With annual salaries of $70,000/yr this will range from $17,500 to $28,000 per manager per year. Incorporating 30 managers increases the range from $525,000 to $840,000 per year.
Harassment claims and other legal issues arising from conflict are costly. Employees under extreme stress may file a harassment claim before understanding the impact and effect on themselves, the organization and others. Hotline staff will work to ensure they have full knowledge of filing a claim and allow them the opportunity to discuss their concerns and explore other options for moving forward.
Conflict is often associated with stress and can be the impetus for mental health concerns. More than 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental illness.(Canadian Mental Health Commission)
Many employees will leave their organization especially if the conflict involves their manager. From Workforce.com, Ernst & Young reports that the cost of losing and replacing an employee may be as high as 150% of the departing employee’s annual salary or $105,000/yr
Supporting employees to improve relationships and increase collaboration will affect engagement and innovation. Research shows that 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in individual employee’s skill or motivation. Daniel Dana, Managing Differences: How to Build Better Relationships at Work and Home (2005, 4th ed.); Barbara J. Kreisman, Insights into Employee Motivation, Commitment and Retention (2002).
The Workplace Fairness Institute works to support organizations to hear and resolve their untold stories. A support line provides an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential environment for your employees to discuss workplace concerns and successfully resolve issues. This may be the option your organization requires to enhance trust while continuing to effectively engage employees, improve productivity and reduce costs