Managing Workplace Tension

Managing Workplace TensionManaging Workplace Tension

In the restaurant industry, where nearly 2 million teenagers (considered those between the ages of 16 and 19) worked in 2018, there is inevitably going to be some tension between staffers. The workplace can easily turn into your average high school cafeteria, rife with cliques and arguments and hormone-fueled crushes. But there can also be anger stemming from employees feeling like they’re not being treated fairly, or over shifts, vacation time, and even wages. If you notice tempers are set to reach a boiling point at your restaurant, here are some tips to managing workplace tension by diffusing the conflicts and get back to running your business.

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye

Conflicts, unless they are truly endangering the well-being of your employees, typically do nothing but take your staff’s attention away from what they’re being paid to do: help your business succeed. As a manager and business owner, it’s important to address whatever conflict is happening directly and immediately—never let chaos fester. Don’t assume that because you’ve hired a staff of adults that they will juts “sort it out” on their own. Bring the parties involved together and let them know they need to handle whatever the issue is in a professional, timely manner. Your business can’t afford to lose momentum because of unresolved conflicts. While some leaders would rather choose to ignore problems, they are actually just creating silos and more tension. Check out the Serendipity Quiz to learn how good you are at identifying conflicts and the opportunities that can result from them.

Listen to Both Sides

Your staff might not be able to find common ground on their own, which is where you come in. Take the time to listen to both sides of the argument separately, and avoid drawing conclusions until you’ve heard the full story. It will then be a good bet to bring the parties together to discuss the situation in an environment where they have your listening ear and no workplace distractions.


As a leader, wherever you see an opportunity for compromise, seize it. This is an important lesson not only for your staff’s work life, but for their life outside the business. We all need to give and take a bit to enjoy workplace harmony. Be patient with your employees, because this is a tough task—especially when tensions are high.

Follow Up

Sometimes the boss gets in the room to try and resolve conflicts, and in order to appease him or her, the affected employees will just place nice with each other. Know that simply because you had a positive meeting one day doesn’t necessarily mean all is well and good. Follow up with your staff to see how they’re doing. Meet with them privately, and then bring them together to sort things out if you learn someone is still unhappy. You’ll want to do this every few days until you’re certain the air is clear. And showing that you’re concerned for everyone’s happiness is key to building trust and respect among your staff.

According to a recent study, employees are 12% more productive when they’re happy. Follow these pointers on conflict resolution and get your staff smiling again!