It can be a major problem for the workplace. Especially if said employees work in the same department, interact with the same people, and are expected to collaborate. So what can an employer do? Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away should not be on the list of options. HR needs to think creatively about how to get the feuding employees back on track, for their own sake as well as the sake of their co-workers and the overall working environment.
I recently had the opportunity to address such an issue for a client. Two employees in the same department. Neither a fan of the other. One, though, was perfectly polite, respectful, even warm. The other was unable (or unwilling) to mask her dislike, changing her demeanor whenever her frenemy came around. Her bad attitude made it uncomfortable for the frenemy of course, but also for others in the office, who noticed the chilly behavior.
What worked to change the situation? A number of discussions with Chilly Lilly. And then a meeting with the two of them. In the meeting we did not discuss the past or even the present. Instead, we talked about the importance of social connections at work. And then we engaged in an interactive activity designed to get them to connect on a personal level. When we dig deep, most of us have far more in common than we might imagine. Sometimes, it just takes a little creativity and a fresh set of eyes to help us find the commonalities.
Interpersonal conflict resolution is an important skill for HR. And sometimes, it makes sense to bring in outside party to do the trick (call me).