Conflict in the workplace is costing employers billions of pounds every year, according to a new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the business psychology firm OPP.

The study reveals that the average employee spends two hours a week dealing with some form of conflict, which is resulting in £24 billion worth of lost productivity for businesses annually.

Almost half of respondents said they thought personality clashes and "warring egos" were responsible for the majority of workplace conflicts, while just over half said they would like their managers to address tensions between staff before they spiral.

The CIPD and OPP believe the problem of conflict could become more apparent as the economic downturn continues, causing more stress among employees.

Linda Holbeche, director of research and policy at the CIPD, said: "Managers must be able to identify the early signs of conflict and intervene and diffuse situations before they escalate if teams are to work productively and harmoniously."

According to the CIPD, some of the main causes of conflict at work are the conduct of colleagues, employee performance, sickness absence levels and bullying.