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Managing the Cost of Workplace Conflict. Comcare National Conference October 2007. Learning Outcomes. Identify factors that contribute to the development and escalation of psychological injury and workplace conflict Explore some key prevention and management strategies.

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managing the cost of workplace conflict

Managing the Cost of Workplace Conflict

Comcare National Conference

October 2007

learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes
  • Identify factors that contribute to the development and escalation of psychological injury and workplace conflict
  • Explore some key prevention and management strategies
work related psychological injuries
Work related psychological injuries
  • “Responses that may develop when people are subjected to demands and expectations that are out of keeping with their needs, abilities, skills and coping strategies”
work related psychological injury
‘Work-related Psychological Injury’
  • Psychological clinical conditions (depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD) that arise from, or are exacerbated by, work
  • Work is a reasonable contributing factor
causes of work related psychological injury
Causes of Work-related Psychological Injury
  • Critical incidents or traumatic events (workplace violence, customer aggression, death of a colleague)
  • Work factors (excessive workloads, lack of resources, organisational culture)
  • Interpersonal issues (bullying and harassment, high unresolved conflict, poor communication)
primary psychological injury triggers
Primary Psychological Injury Triggers
  • Critical incidents
  • Extended / unresolved interpersonal conflict
  • Discrimination, harassment and bullying
  • Work overload / career dissatisfaction issues
  • Organisational change
primary psychological injury triggers10
Primary Psychological Injury Triggers
  • Irregular and ineffective performance monitoring and management
  • Poor management skills
  • Ongoing physical health complaints
psychological injury triggers
Psychological Injury Triggers
  • Organisational culture
  • Demands of the job
  • Support and the individual
  • Control
  • Relationships
  • Change
non work factors leading to psychological distress
Non-work Factors leading to Psychological Distress
  • Pre-existing personality styles
  • High levels of vocational discontent
  • Health, family, financial issues
  • Psychological disorders
management of workplace conflict
Management of Workplace Conflict




  • Regular informal and formal monitoring of work environment including risk assessments
  • Early recognition of signs of workplace stress and root causes
managers responsibility
Managers Responsibility
  • Vicarious liability
  • Common management responses include:

- Ignoring the conflict

- Making the situation worse by scapegoating or victimising

- Taking sides

- Hoping it will all “go away”

management of workplace conflict15
Management of Workplace Conflict
  • Prompt organisational responses/action in line with policies and procedures
  • Referrals offered to psychological support services promptly and routinely
  • Mechanisms, encouragement and support for all staff to raise or report significant issues (without fear of persecution, issue dismissal or blame response)
management of psychological injury
Management of Psychological Injury
  • Ongoing workforce education & development – generic and manager specific
  • Stress awareness and management training
  • Regular promotion of internal and external support mechanisms for staff experiencing distress – EAP, HR People Management Team, ManagerAssist programs
  • Career coaching and mentoring
  • Manage underperformance
management of workplace conflict17
Management of Workplace Conflict
  • Prevent and manage unacceptable workplace behaviour or conduct
  • Assist individuals and teams to manage conflict
  • Encourage self-management skills & strategies
  • Communicate effectively
  • Good change management practices