Conflict Resolution Specialists: The Key to Defusing Workplace Attrition

People quit people, not jobs.

When people leave their employers, it’s often because of conflict with co-workers or supervisors rather than low pay, location, or type of work, say major employment watchers.

“While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it,” reported Forbes. (2) “Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely fester only to grow into resentment, create withdrawal or cause factional infighting within an organization.”

Such conflict is the main reason that negotiation and conflict resolution professionals are highly prized. The need for such professionals will increase by about 9 percent between now and 2024, projected the BLS. (1) High turnover due to conflict – that likely could have been resolved with conflict resolution management systems -- has left employers with unfilled positions.

The bottom line is employers struggle to recruit HR professionals who excel at negotiation and conflict management. That’s largely because there are not enough specialists to meet employers’ needs. It also underscores a need for programs that possess these skills.

Employers seek professionals who have learned their craft from negotiation and conflict leaders, acquired advanced negotiation and conflict resolution education, and honed their skills in real-world environments. The graduate faculty at Creighton University has developed a negotiation and conflict resolution program, whose graduates are among the most highly sought after by employers.

Effective conflict resolution professionals delve into the causes of workplace conflicts and help all parties work to resolve the underlying causes and mitigate any future eruptions.

For example, between 60 percent and 80 percent of all “difficulties” in organizations come from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in individual employees’ skills or motivation, according to research quoted in Conflict in Workplace. (3)

The costs of such “difficulties” is hard to pinpoint, but employee turnover costs can amount to thousands of dollars, according to ERE Media. (4) For entry-level employees, it costs between 30 percent and 50 percent of their annual salaries to replace them.

For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150 percent of their annual salaries. For high-level or highly specialized employees, employers are often looking at a 400 percent cost.

Negotiation and conflict resolution professionals are employers’ best hope to plug this flood of resources. Those who are effective have special skills, including understanding the varying ways people express and perceive disagreements, noted the New York Times. Once discord erupts, they note, it’s difficult to rein it in.

"Subconsciously, people tend to mirror one another’s behavior; regardless of your personal background, the pull toward reciprocity is strong,” noted Phyllis Korkki last year in the New York Times. (5)

When employees understand what healthy communication looks like at work and see the people around them practicing it, they will start to exhibit it, experts say.

Negotiation and conflict resolution professionals trained at Creighton University can master that kind of understanding. Find out more about the online program, here.