Politics and religion often are considered taboo in the workplace; they're conversational landmines to be carefully avoided to keep the peace. However, in a recent survey by Workplace Options, nearly half (44 percent) of all respondents indicated that they discuss politics and religion with co-workers.
Only 17 percent of respondents consider politics to be the leading cause of workplace conflicts, and just 9 percent believe religion is the number one cause. In fact, 52 percent of those surveyed identified job-related issues as the biggest source of conflict.
Personality clashes and poor communication most often are the causes of these conflicts. "When you have different people working together, personality clashes are bound to happen," says Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options, which commissioned the survey.
He notes that the best way to avoid having conflicts turn into bigger problems is to teach employees effective communication, and to set guidelines for conflict resolution. The survey suggests a gap in effective conflict resolution processes: 65 percent of respondents had been involved in a conflict at work, yet 35 percent said that their employers do not have a formal complaint process, and 7 percent didn't know if there was such a process.