Mediation can be especially helpful to help resolve conflict, personality clashes and where issues arise when employees have different approaches to working. It can help to avoid having to deal with a grievance formally.

The main aim of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain the employment relationship wherever possible. This means the focus is on working together going forward, not determining who was right or wrong in the past.

Why choose mediation?

Mediation can help you resolve a disagreement so you can get back to normal, productive and healthy atmosphere in the workplace. Mediation can re-establish channels of communication that may have been lost.

Mediation can avoid people leaving their employment which often happens when conflict is not dealt with or when more formal procedures are used. It can also be less stressful than formal procedures for all concerned.

When considering mediation, employers should consider the costs it can save.  Conflict can escalate and cost business a huge amount of time and money.

What kinds of disagreements are suitable for mediation?

Mediation is about restoring or repairing a working relationship, so certain kinds of disputes cannot be mediated such as disputes over pay or contractual terms for example. Workplace mediation can be used at any stage in a dispute but is often most effective if used early on.

The types of disputes most resolved by mediation are where there is a falling out amongst employees or an employee and their manager.  Sometimes it can help where employees have very different ways of working and a conflict arises. For example an employee may take exception to the way a colleague words their emails to them, they may consider it inappropriate or patronising. It can help where employees are regularly complaining about other employees. Clashing personalities is a very common problem in the workplace and mediation can sometimes help the employees to gain understanding of each other in to agree to compromise.

Where employees have entrenched positions on a matter, a mediator can listen to both sides and guide the employees to a resolution. It can help employees to get things off their chest.

How does mediation work?

Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential way of resolving workplace disputes between people. It provides a fair space where parties are encouraged to talk. 

It involves a trained, independent, impartial person helping two or more individuals to reach a solution to a workplace dispute that’s acceptable to everyone. A mediator will do more listening than talking and will aim to gently guide the parties to a consensus. 

Mediators do not make judgments or determine outcomes – they ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify options for resolving them.

What does it cost and who pays?

A charge is generally made for mediation which is usually paid for by the employer.

What if my employees refuse to be in the same room with each other?

The mediator will agree rules with both employees on how everyone will behave in any joint meeting. A meeting can be suspended at any time.

Appoint a trusted, independent mediator

Parties need to be confident that the mediator appointed won’t take sides and will work with both parties to find a solution everyone can live with if they are to feel confident about agreeing to mediation. HR Think can provide you with a trained, experienced mediator.

On a positive note recognising disagreements then listening and responding promptly can improve the estimation of the employer amongst the workforce. Mediation doesn’t always work but can often be worth trying to help avoid matters escalating into grievance hearings or employment tribunals.  

Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you are consideration mediation.  Liz is ACAS trained in workplace mediation.