12 Challenging Aspects of Workplace Conflict, According To Survey

The office can be a great place to make friends and acquaintances. But it can also become uncomfortable when work styles and personalities clash.

Research company Innerbody ran a survey to determine the causes and impact of workplace conflict.

Measuring Workplace Conflict

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Innerbody.com surveyed 973 workers to determine the kinds of conflicts people have at the office, which industries are most affected, and more. Their key findings are as follows.

1: Brace Yourselves, Supervisors 

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Supervisors are the greatest instigators of workplace conflict, according to 48% of survey participants. Managers and bosses cause 36% of workplace conflict, whereas a mere 16% of coworkers are responsible for stirring up trouble in the office.

2: Industry Matters

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People working in the architecture and engineering fields reported higher occurrences of having conflicts with their managers or bosses. In contrast, people in the health and medicine industry appear to be more likely to have conflicts with their coworkers, while those in the communications sector have higher rates of conflict with their supervisors.

3: Work Ethic Divergences

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Fifty-four percent of surveyees stated that work ethic disparity was the main driver of the workplace conflict they’ve experienced. Competition among colleagues also ranked high, at 40%. Inappropriate boundaries with coworkers and gender discrimination had the far too high numbers of 34% and 33% as the source of workplace conflict.

4: The Outsider

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A massive 76.2% of surveyees said that they’ve experienced some form of conflict in the workplace as a result of being excluded from an after-work activity.

5: Wisdom With Age?

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People over 50 years old reported the highest chance of conflict with their coworkers compared to any other age group.

6: Boundaries Crossed

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On the other hand, 45% of survey participants in their 30s stated that inappropriate boundaries of coworkers were their primary source of conflict in the office. The survey also revealed that workers in their 30s are more likely to experience racial, gender, and political discrimination.

7: When Diversity Gets Complicated

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Innerbody maintains that diversity in the workplace is inherently good. However, in terms of work conflict, it appears that there can be some downsides. Namely, cultural differences can lead to conflict regarding differing opinions, social norms, values, and more. For this reason, Innerbody encourages a company’s leadership team to promote teamwork and empathy to help foster a safe environment for all.

8: The Gender Divide

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Women encounter greater rates (43%) of conflict in the workplace than their male colleagues (39%). Innerbody.com suggests that not only do women historically have to be extra competitive with their male coworkers to find success in their careers, but they also have to compete with their own gender.

9: I Quit

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Fifty-one percent of survey participants said they’ve wanted to quit because of conflict in the workspace. Men (54%) and people in their 30s (59%) report having the highest urges to quit. In contrast, 41% of participants said they followed through with quitting their jobs due to workplace conflict. 

10: Negative Conflict Impacts

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Aside from wanting to quit or actually quitting one’s job, Innerbody discovered that additional negative impacts conflict can spark in the workplace include:

  • Loss of a promotion
  • Crying at work
  • Decline in productivity
  • Reassigned to another department

11: High Emotions

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Emotional causes also spark conflict at work, with 45% of surveyees reporting that stress is the primary driver. Anger followed closely at 44%. Frustration (38%), fear (38%), jealousy (37%), and inadequacy (36%) were also high emotional causes of workplace conflict.

12: Romance Fails

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A massive 67% of people have reported experiencing conflict in the workplace due to some form of romance. According to the survey, men are more likely than women to engage in office romances, though the gap between the two was small.

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