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Workplace Conflict

For Employers

In every professional environment, differences in perspectives, motivations, and approaches are bound to arise. These differences, while natural, can lead to workplace conflict between employees. However, when addressed with understanding and effective strategies, these conflicts can pave the way for innovation, stronger relationships, and a harmonious workplace.

Conflicts are not inherently negative. They are a reflection of the diverse thought processes and experiences that each individual brings to the table. When channeled correctly, conflicts can be the catalyst for positive change, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration.

The Onus Falls on the Employer

Even if the employer doesn’t directly violate the workplace rights of an employee, an employer is still responsible for the safety of its workers. Not ensuring workplace safety issues and addressing  internal workplace conflict can lead to potentially severe consequences to your business.

Poor Image In the Community

Ever heard the saying, “A company’s reputation is its most valuable asset”? It’s true. When workplace conflicts escalate, word spreads like wildfire. Before you know it, your esteemed business could be the talk of the town – and not in a good way. A tarnished image can lead to decreased trust from clients, partners, and even potential employees. Remember, in today’s digital age, bad news travels fast.

Lawsuit will go to You

Here’s a hard pill to swallow: If things go south, the lawsuit will land on your desk and likely not that of the employee(s) involved. As an employer, you’re legally responsible for ensuring a safe and harmonious work environment. Ignoring or mishandling conflicts can lead to hefty legal fees, compensation claims, and a damaged reputation. Therefore, proactivity is well work it!

Common Themes of Workplace Conflict

Discriminatory, Politically Charged, Harassment

It’s 2023 but sadly, discrimination and harassment are still prevalent in many workplaces. Whether it’s based on race, gender, political beliefs or other protected characteristics, such behavior is not only unethical but also illegal. As an employer, it is crucial to be proactive and manage workplace conflicts, including stopping discrimination immediately when it occurs.


Bullying isn’t just a schoolyard issue; it’s very much alive in workplaces too. From snide remarks to overt aggression, bullying can take many forms. It’s not just harmful to the victim; it creates a toxic environment for everyone. And guess what? You, as the employer, will be held accountable if it’s not addressed.

Coercion by Management

Sometimes, the conflict stems from the top. Coercion by management, where employees feel pressured to act against their will, can lead to resentment, low morale, and even legal issues. It’s essential to foster open communication and ensure that power dynamics don’t lead to conflicts.

Disagreements Over Tasks and Duties

It’s natural for employees to have differing opinions on how tasks should be executed. However, when these disagreements aren’t resolved, they can fester and lead to bigger issues. Employees in the same department may feel like they do more work than others. All while being compensated the same. Clear communication and defined roles can help mitigate such conflicts.

How Should Employers Deal With Conflict

You should have clear policies and procedures that outline how to deal with workplace conflict. These rules must also be reiterated to new and current employees when necessary. Workplace conflict can be a complex process and organizations need to know how to deal with it at each stage of events. 

Have a Process for Making Formal / Informal Complaints

A clear process for raising complaints allows employees to voice their concerns without fear. Whether it’s a formal procedure or an open-door policy, having a system in place is the first step in addressing workplace conflicts.

Understand the Law

It’s not just about knowing right from wrong. As an employer, you need to understand the intricacies of the law. Is the conflict a federal or provincial matter? There are different rules and processes depending under which jurisdiction the workplace violation falls under. Meaning that mediation and/or the legal process will look a lot different. Also consider if the conflict falls under the jurisdiction of a union. Being well-informed can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Document the Process in Case of Legal Action

Documentation is key. If a conflict escalates to legal action, having a record of all interactions, decisions, and steps taken can be your saving grace. It’s not just about covering your back; it’s about ensuring transparency and fairness.

Let Ascent Employment Law Help

It’s essential to recognize that workplace conflicts, while challenging, are a part of our human experience. They can be catalysts for growth if approached with understanding and the right tools. As employers in BC, it’s not just about navigating the legal maze but genuinely striving for a workplace where every individual feels valued and heard. At Ascent Employment Law, we’re not just here to offer legal advice but to partner with you in creating a harmonious work environment. After all, at the heart of every business are its people. Let’s prioritize their well-being and, in turn, watch our businesses flourish.

The right team, dedicated to your success