As per the CPP’s “Global Human Capital Report”, 49% of workplace conflicts are caused by warring egos. Add to this the unreported incidents. Conflict management is certainly one of the top priorities for HR managers. It needs continuous efforts and steps to build a supportive work culture. As mutual trust and camaraderie develops amongst employees, conflicts reduce and work performance improves. I will introduce you to an easy to implement employee engagement activity that will help manage conflict in the workplace.
One of the primary reasons for lack of trust and respect for colleagues is limited personal interaction. This is especially true in large offices. As employees compete with each other for limited opportunities, they perceive each other as a threat. We all know there is a lot of “hearsay” and “rumors” floating around that further add to this mistrust.
As most managers tend to frequently and vocally reward individual brilliance at work rather than team collaboration, the competition to outshine colleagues increases.
Employee Engagement Activity to Manage Conflict in the Workplace
Modern offices are rather busy. Walk around any corporate workplace and you find people glued to their screens, talking on the phone, huddled in meeting rooms pondering over endless slides and graphs. Breaks are random and few. While on breaks, most employees hang out with a set group of colleagues.
It is easy for me to hold a colleague in contempt when I do not know her well enough.
It is relatively much harder for me to hold a friend in contempt for the same act.
Even a slight fondness for another person will make it much more difficult to develop and hold a grudge, especially for some insignificant differences at the workplace. More so for hearsay and rumors.
Celebrating “Gratitude Day” in offices is an effective employee engagement activity to increase fondness for each other.
Celebrate Gratitude Day for Conflict Management
Quoting from a blog on the Benefitexpress website: “From enhanced mood, improved productivity, stronger relationships and a happier workforce, gratitude plays an important role in organizational success. Ultimately, gratitude in the workplace can lead to deeper connections to not only each other, but to the work you’re doing each and every day.”
Given below are the steps to celebrate Gratitude Day at work
The celebration has to be a surprise. It cannot be a pre-informed activity. The idea is to evoke spontaneous reactions and feedback. The activity is best suited to groups of 10 to 15. For larger teams, divide them into random teams each time you plan to conduct this activity to manage conflict in the workplace and build trust and camaraderie.
- Inform employees regarding the surprise celebration of “Gratitude Day”. Share the team division with everyone
- Make chits with names of each employee and arrange them in lots as per the division of teams
- As each team gathers for their turn, let each member pick a chit one by one
- Once everyone has picked a random chit, give them 2 to 3 minutes to think.
What is the activity?
Each member of the team now has a chit with the name of another employee.
5. He or she needs to thank that employee in front of the entire group. Something like “I would like to thank Anjali for staying back late last Friday to decorate the office for Diwali. It was really thoughtful of her. The celebrations made me feel at home while I first time celebrated Diwali away from my family.” OR “I would like to thank Ajay for bringing up the issue of rotational weekend offs for all employees. I had been working weekend shifts for over 2 months. It was such a relief.”
Encourage slightly long answers. Set a rule that each person has to speak for at least 30 seconds. Ensure that people do not express gratitude for completing assigned official responsibilities. Let them acknowledge small acts of kindness, support and thoughtfulness.
What is the impact?
Let’s face it. It is genuinely very difficult to hold a grudge against someone who expressed her gratitude in public for one of your small and otherwise unnoticed good behavior. As we tend to know the good qualities colleagues notice and value, we start to like them. It also enforces the good behavior in us.
As trust and fondness increases over a series of such engagement activities, the incidents of conflicts become rare. Let us all strive to end such meaningful conflicts in the workplaces and create happier, stress free offices.