Small Business Human Resources

How to Deal with Employee Quarrels

Written by Andrew Goldman for Gaebler Ventures

Quarrelling employees can affect more people than those involved. Job satisfaction, quality control and customer service can all suffer. As a result, managing employee quarrels is critical.

One of the most difficult aspects of a business a manager can deal with is handling employee quarrels.

While quarreling employees have little to do with the finances of business, an unruly workforce can certainly affect our product and our bottom line.

If you have employees that do not get along, it could be a bigger problem than you think. Make sure you take measures to get the situation under control and don't let the problem grow.

If there is an employee altercation, you want to take measures to nip the problem in the bud. If you're a small company, this may mean you getting involved. If you have a middle-management system, this means you should create a system to handle employee clashes.

Make sure you have a set protocol for how to deal with employee altercations. This usually means documenting the incident, speaking with the employees individually and together and having them sign the documentation.

As part of the documentation process, you should make it clear to the employees that this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the future.

A problem that I see when I visit companies that have quarrelling employees is that one of the employees involved is extremely valuable to the company. As a result, management is hesitant to take action for fear of losing the solid employee. While this is a predicament, management needs to understand the detrimental effects of employees that do not get along and re-evaluate the situation.

When employees are fighting, job satisfaction decreases significantly. Obviously the employees involved will not enjoy their work or their working environment, but other employees who are not involved will also suffer. A few bad apples really can spoil the bunch.

When the working environment suffers as the result of bickering employees, productivity is likely to decrease as well. This further illustrates the need to handle the situation as soon as possible.

In addition to decreased job satisfaction, quality control and customer service can also suffer as a result of consistent employee altercations. Employees can become flustered from the altercation or get distracted and pay less attention to their job duties. This can lead to decreases in quality. In addition, aggravated employees may take it out on the customers or present a poor image of the business. When quality and customer service suffer, there's a real problem.

Since quality control, customer service and employee job satisfaction can all suffer as the result of quarrelling employees; the small business needs to be thorough in eliminating the problem. As soon as an issue arrives, there should be documentation and attempted mediation.

If immediate action is not taken, the problem can fester. In addition, employees not involved with not be pleased to see that the company has taken no action to rectify the situation.

Andrew Goldman is an Isenberg School of Management MBA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has extensive experience working with small businesses on a consulting basis.

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Do your employees fight with each other? How do you think employers should react to employees fighting? We welcome your tips and stories regarding employee quarrels in the workplace.

  • badasssupervisor. posted on 8/2/2009
    I get them all in the the room and say "youre fired" bring in the next batch of fvckz!

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