When employees don't get along, a business owner must find out what the issue is and try to resolve it. Even if the boss only hears gossip about workplace friction, it's time to intervene.
Human resources consultants advise owners to speak to staffers in a non-confrontational way to determine whether there's a personality clash, a disagreement about how to get the work done or perhaps fallout from friendship or romance that's ended. In such cases, disputes that disrupt the workplace may be a performance issue, and employees then need to be reminded that they're expected to behave professionally or face discipline.
If staffers are struggling because of personal problems and letting their emotions spill into the workplace, an owner should consider referring them to an employee assistance provider who can provide therapy.
But an owner also needs to look further, and see whether there's something in the company's operations or hierarchy that's causing or contributing to the acrimony. Are workloads unfairly distributed? Are problems like technology breakdowns or overbearing customers raising the frustration level? While staffers still need to act in a businesslike manner, the owner should address the underlying issues.
Workplace friction can cause problems beyond a loss of productivity. If employees feel they're in a hostile work environment, they can file a discrimination lawsuit against the company. That would be a further disruption and run up legal bills for a business.