While the levels may vary from company to company, the recipe for workplace disharmony lies in a mix of interpersonal conflict, lack of a shared vision, poor leadership, and weak communication. When it’s dealt with in a healthy, productive manner, disharmony is temporary, even fleeting sometimes. But if left unresolved, it can inflict a lot of negative effects on the health of a company and its employees.
Disharmony at work can be a huge de-motivator for employees. Instead of concentrating on doing the tasks on their to-do lists, employees can’t help but focus on the negative atmosphere, making them dread work and causing their morale to take a nosedive. When morale is high, employees are more productive, but when it’s low, employees are more stressed and burn out more easily. Making sure that everyone has healthy tools to deal with conflict resolution, such as a couple of go-to phrases and actions to address problems while lowering defensiveness, helps to ensure that disharmony is lessened and employee morale is higher.
As day follows night, a lot of stress and low morale in the workplace generally lead to employees getting less done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress in the workplace leads to health issues that cause more tardiness and higher absenteeism, which limits the amount of work employees get done. In addition to the mental and emotional distraction that negativity causes, confusion about whether to prioritize work over interpersonal interactions can set in, causing a lag in tackling work tasks. If employees avoid one another because of potential conflict instead of collaborating, projects can be stalled and deliverables not completed.
When an atmosphere of disharmony continues for long periods of time, it takes its toll on employees and can often cause behavior that’s counterproductive and unprofessional. Employees spend time venting to one another rather than resolving issues quickly and working steadily. Gossiping and backbiting weaken trust and increase fear and negativity. Complaining to people outside the organization (such as clients, vendors or partners) can also occur, damaging the company’s public image as well. Ensuring that everyone knows to resolve conflicts professionally and are clear on company conduct or behavior policies can help minimize unprofessional behavior.
Even More Disharmony
When negativity persists, it not only takes a toll -- it can perpetuate itself. Persistent distrust, lack of hope that things will change and bad feelings lead to employees wanting to leave their jobs, which creates another cycle of low morale; and the whole mix begins again. Identifying the cause of the disharmony and reducing them will lessen its effects immediately and help to prevent it from returning in the future.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.