Sunday 23 September, 2018

Conflicts in the workplace on the rise, says local psychologist

(Stock Image)

(Stock Image)

Employers are being urged to take some time to orient their employees about their organisations’ values and expectations, as well as what is regarded as acceptable practices in the workplace. 

This advice has come from Senior Counselling Psychologist at Network Services Centre, Anderson Kellman, who said this was necessary as workplace conflicts in the public and private sectors appeared to be on the rise.  

Mr. Kellman stated: “There needs to be conflict resolution workshops and seminars conducted with existing staff on a regular basis and supervisors need to be trained to mediate conflict. 

“Oftentimes it is the supervisor who is aware of the conflict but sometimes does not do anything about it because as far as they are concerned, ‘it does not affect me, it is not my fault, I did not cause it, so work it out’. What they don’t realise is that where conflict exists, there is always a sign of coldness, there is also the issue of dysfunction among the work group and, therefore, it ultimately impacts on productivity.” 

According to him, supervisors must recognise that any incident involving workmates is one too many and he suggested that it was necessary for them to find a way to help their charges resolve issues.  

“Conflict has the potential of creating a lot of toxicity in the workforce. We spend about two-thirds of our waking productive lives at work and so when work becomes a place of conflict, it can really impact our lives in terms of our levels of stress,” he noted. 

Mr. Kellman is of the view that some persons are not proficient in inter-personal relationships, so they do not understand how to negotiate situations and how to compromise.  “Some persons want to have their own way and, therefore, they are not willing to engage; I believe it is because of this new wave of individualism.” 

“I think we were more community-oriented before but now we are more for self… What is happening is when persons’ values and views don’t align, rather than working them through, they become very conflictual. In addition, sometimes the situation becomes a point of polarity as well for the organisation because persons gather those around them who have like view or mind and the other persons do the same, making the environment very polarised and toxic,” he stated. 

Network Services Centre is the primary provider of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is a professional assessment, referral and or short-term counselling service offered to Government employees who have difficult personal or work-related problems. These problems may result from domestic issues, alcoholism, drug abuse, legal or financial difficulties or other stressors. The programme is facilitated through the Office of Public Sector Reform. 

According to Mr. Kellman, Network Services Centre has been providing counselling services to the public and private sectors for several years in Barbados and a number of Caribbean countries. He noted that there was a greater utilisation of the programme now and hinted that this might have occurred because of the near extinction of the extended family.