What causes conflict in the workplace?

Toxic workplaces can lead to conflict among employees. / Net photo.

Conflicts are a common thing in the workplace. They usually start with simple issues but with time, such misunderstandings can mount into serious grudges that can affect relationships among workers as well as their performance. 

Whereas these conflicts are inevitable, understanding the root cause is important in terms of dealing with them. 


Here are some of the causes of conflict in the workplace;


Poor communication


Poor communication is one of the main causes of conflict between employees in the workplace. Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings that can eventually lead to clashes. But also, a complete lack of communication can make one feel side-lined or insignificant. For example if a manager implements certain changes in the workplace without informing employees, they can feel irrelevant and this can cause hostility among employees and the manager.

Toxic work environment

Everyone wishes to work in a free and happy environment. A toxic workplace is where the work, atmosphere, people or any combination of those things cause serious disturbances to an individual. Toxic workplaces lead to employee burnout, fatigue and illness due to high levels of stress and this can impose chaos among workers. If all workers are never happy or thrilled to work, then something wrong is bound to happen. Such can lead to gossip and unhealthy relationships; factors that not only lead to conflict but can mess up the work atmosphere.


At every work place, there is at least that one person who wants to show that they do things better than everyone else. The motive behind this could be to win the heart of the boss for a promotion or just to prove that they are the best. This is unhealthy competition especially if one’s efforts are expressed at the expense of other employees’ wellbeing. Such people end up promoting unhealthy workplace competition that is bound to cause clashes among peers- promoting individualism and discouraging teamwork.

Poor work habits

Imagine working with someone who always misses deadlines and thus not accomplishing tasks which might affect other team members and the company. Think about an employee with a hot temper that gets angry at little things and reacts without thinking twice, or one that always reports to work late and they are dirty or disorganised. How about those that are negative and find joy in spreading rumours? Such people drain other members’ energy and make the workplace an unhappy place to be.

Office romance

Usually, some work places make it clear that dating a fellow workmate is prohibited but many times, love blossoms among employees regardless. In case of a breakup or unsettling issues among them, the repercussions are bound to spread to their work and with this, conflicts are bound to happen.

Personality clashes 

People have different personalities, this alone creates an atmosphere for disagreements. When employees fail to understand or accept the differences in each other’s personalities, problems are bound to arise in the workplace.

Unrealistic needs and expectations

Conflicts in the work place can at times be triggered by employers who ignore the needs of employees. This can also be caused by setting of unrealistic expectations. For example, some employers tend to overwork their employees without offering salary increment or additional benefits. This might look unfair on the side of employees, a factor that can lead to misunderstandings at work.


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