Guidance on Workplace Conflict: Should I Step In?

We all have seen it – two employees in an argument over who is picking up the other one’s slack, and you’re left contemplating on whether to step in or let them work it out. The question is, should you be stepping in?

 Workplace conflicts can range from violence and harassment, to anything troublesome that happens at or during work. This can be physical or verbal, and creates a risk to the health and safety of an employee or multiple employees. When dealing with workplace conflict, we want to look at conflict resolution. You may ask, what exactly is conflict resolution? It’s simple: resolving an issue or dispute between two or more people. It can be between supervisors, coworkers, customers, clients or even involve the CEO.  When an issue occurs, the most common thing to do is to take action and resolve the disagreement, but when should you really be getting involved?


When to intervene

Always respond to employees that come to you with concerns regarding other employees. Even if it appears to be something minor, it is important to find the best way to resolve the issue that is fair (and legal) to both parties. Let’s say you have an employee who comes to you claiming that another employee has been making inappropriate comments during work and is uncomfortable. If these allegations are ignored but could legally be considered harassment, this could result in a charge from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a lawsuit.


When not to intervene

First, ask yourself, “Is this dispute really that important?” Let’s say you see a few employees having a small disagreement. If you know it is something that won’t escalate or become more than a simple dispute, leave it. Sometimes letting others work through their own disagreements is easier than becoming involved. However, if you did become involved, this can risk you saying something that shows favoritism and now there is a whole different issue. Therefore, keeping out of trivial arguments can be the safest bet.


There is no need to make this decision on your own; the experts at UAP are here to help. We always encourage our clients to call the HR Department at UAP with any questions or concerns regarding workplace conflict.  Let our team guide you through the process.