Managing Workplace Conflict: Transforming Workplace Relationships

The Need

According to a recent study conducted by TNS for The Conference Board, employee job satisfaction has dropped significantly in the past 20 years. In 1987, the first year the study was conducted, over 61 percent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied in their current jobs. In 2009, that number had dropped to 45 percent. Of respondents age 25 and under, job satisfaction stood at a lowly 35.7%. “These numbers do not bode well given the multi-generational dynamics of the labor force,” said Linda Barrington, Managing Director, Human Capital, The Conference Board.

How we feel about the people we work with plays a critical role in our overall job satisfaction and our reasons for leaving employers. In a study of employee job satisfaction:

  • 62% of employees left one or more jobs in the past at least partially because of a difficult relationship with a coworker
  • 30% reported a difficult coworker currently frustrated them
  • One-fifth of that 30% stated that the difficult coworker was their immediate boss

[Source: NetSpeed Learning Solutions survey (2008)]

In a report entitled What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees, 2007, Robert Half International states that the highest work priority for the Y Generation is “a good relationship with bosses and coworkers.” Our conclusion is that interpersonal relationships matter to all generations, even more so to the next generation of workers who likely experience increased job satisfaction when their work relationships work well.