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Workplace conflict and intent to leave

Updated: Oct 4, 2019



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Workplace conflict can affect levels of productivity, absenteeism, job satisfaction, commitment, stress, and intentions to leave. It can also make one's working life miserable and uncomfortable, so much so that some of the effects on the individual can be potentially fatal.

Although some conflict is usually considered normal and positive, at extreme levels workers may consider leaving the organisation in order to escape the conflict. When conflict is handled and dealt with successfully within the organisation, this level of understanding is a crucial step in both preventing conflict and developing organisational success. Many staff in management positions either do not, or can not, manage conflict.

Conflict can result from interpersonal hostility between coworkers and/or supervisors, and can include personal differences in values, job perspectives, and styles. Furthermore, conflict can result when one or more people clash and cannot get on with each other. It is also generally stressful and unpleasant for those involved in the conflict, with the effects of the conflict flowing over into their personal lives. Such emotional effects of conflict can be related to feelings of resentment, mistrust, fear, dislike, and anger.

There has been extensive research that contends there are links between incivility in the workplace and decreases in productivity, job satisfaction, commitment, absenteeism, and intentions to leave. Further support to this contention is that one of the simplest ways to handle conflict is withdrawal, and in order to avoid work employees choose to leave their jobs instead.

When competent employees voluntarily leave their jobs the outcome can prove costly to the organisation due to the expenses incurred in having to source, hire, and train new staff to fill their positions. There is also the consideration of the reduction in organisational productivity during this time. When employees do choose to leave their current job the decision is one that is usually made after much thought and planning, perhaps due to the knowledge that this event is permanent.

Many factors have been considered with respect to why employees seek to leave organisations. These include exhaustion, lack of job satisfaction, lack of career opportunities, working conditions, and workplace conflict. In particular, the most common findings in organisational research are the relationships between commitment, job satisfaction, and intent to leave. That is, if the level of commitment and/or job satisfaction is low, employees are more likely to seek alternate employment outside of the organisation.

Within Australia, research has discovered a relationship between low interpersonal communication, boredom, and unsatisfactory relationships between management and employees. Furthermore, factors such as absenteeism and tenure can be associated with one's level of job satisfaction.

If you need a qualified and experienced professional to talk to in a confidential and caring environment, then schedule a wellbeing session with Dr Nadine Hamilton today. Don't keep putting it off - if you do the odds are that things may get worse.

If you are an employer dealing with workplace conflict and/or communication issues, please get in touch to see how we can help you.

About Dr Nadine Hamilton

As a leading authority on veterinary wellbeing, Dr Hamilton helps veterinary professionals get on top of stress and conflict to avoid burnout and suicide, and also works with practice managers and owners to increase wellbeing, productivity, and retention in the workplace. Additionally, she provide workshops to small and large groups within the private and corporate sectors, and speaks at conferences and symposiums both nationally and internationally.


Her book "Coping with Stress and Burnout as a Veterinarian - An Evidence-Based Solution to Increase Wellbeing" was released in March 2019 through Australian Academic Press, and is already making a positive impact within the profession - both here in Australia and internationally.


As an advocate for the veterinary profession, Dr Hamilton founded the charity "Love Your Pet Love Your Vet" and partnered with Royal Canin to reduce stigma in veterinary professionals seeking help, raising awareness within the community about the realities of working in the profession, and providing psychological and educational support to veterinary professionals.


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