35% of respondents said that since the beginning of 2022, conflicts in the workplace have become more frequent

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Joint research by SberUniversity and recruiting platform hh.ru. revealed the polarization of workers’ opinions about the dynamics of the number of conflicts at work. More than a third of those surveyed – 35% – said that since the beginning of 2022, quarrels in the workplace have become more common, and personal rather than professional conflicts have been at the heart of most conflicts. But 30% of respondents reported that, on the contrary, they began to encounter such situations less often, 28% did not notice any special changes. Experts note an increase in psychological tension in the workplace, the cause of which, in addition to such events as a military operation and mobilization, may be the transition of many companies to a so far unusual hybrid format of work.

The basis of the study, prepared by experts from SberUniversity and the hh.ru recruiting platform, was a survey of citizens whose resumes were posted on the portal in order to find a new job. More than a third of respondents (35%) indicated that there are more conflict situations in the organizations where they work. 30% of respondents began to encounter work conflicts less often, and 28% did not notice significant changes in relations with colleagues and superiors. In the “official context”, the highest and middle management reported more often than others about the growth of conflict, in the sectoral context, representatives of the IT industry (33%).

The overwhelming majority of respondents (71%) reported that the conflicts they witnessed were based on interpersonal contradictions between employees – the desire to dominate the discussion, make general statements that are not supported by facts, and also challenge the ideas of individual team members. Only 29% reported that conflicts were provoked by the desire to better solve work tasks. As a result of the clarification of relations, according to the respondents, a “toxic environment” was formed in the companies (this was noted by 50%), the participants in the conflict lost motivation to work (45%) and to cooperate with colleagues (42%). 41% of respondents noted that management could do little to improve the situation.

Representatives of psychological assistance services interviewed by Kommersant, although they talk about the growing level of stress at work, do not directly connect this with an increase in the number of conflicts. Anton Kushner, founder of the I Understand corporate well-being platform, notes that employees who apply to the service for psychological help complain about a growing level of anxiety – this, in turn, can provoke an aggravation of problems in communicating with colleagues. Problems at work, according to Olga Melnikova, Business Development Director at Corporate Health, account for 18.5% of all calls to corporate psychologists. According to her, in 2021–2022, the share of conflicts with colleagues and superiors remained practically unchanged (about 15%).

As Elena Vitchak, professor of business practice at the Skolkovo School of Management, notes, in addition to large-scale events that negatively affected the mental state of Russians (such as a military operation and partial mobilization), the growth of conflicts at work can be triggered by the introduction of a hybrid mode of operation. “Many companies are trying to find a compromise between working remotely and working from the office. However, if everyone is already used to the first and second formats, then the “hybrid” has not yet been debugged,” she notes.

An increase in the number of labor conflicts can increase both direct (spending on voluntary health insurance and corporate psychological assistance programs) and indirect costs (loss of productivity) of companies. So far, no one has made assessments of this phenomenon for the Russian economy. Foreign studies have shown that conflicts at work cost the UK economy £28 billion a year, and the US $359 billion.

It is possible to minimize losses from conflicts — for this, says Maksim Kiselev, Director for Development of Projects in the Field of Leadership Competencies and Soft Skills at Sber University, they need to be translated into a constructive direction, where “everyone wins and there is a compromise.” “Conflict management is the responsibility of the leader. He must delve into the conflicts of subordinates, even if we are talking about purely personal hostility, ”says the expert. In order for the conflict to have a positive effect in the end, when discussing controversial issues, it is necessary to create a safe environment for employees, says Ninel Bokman, head of mediation at hh.ru. It can help to hold meetings with the participation of a facilitator (a specialist who ensures successful group communication), who “creates a safe environment and helps the team discuss controversial situations and find a solution,” says Ksenia Kalinina, Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Fun&Sun.

Anastasia Manuylova

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