Using mediation to resolve workplace disputes has many benefits, providing a safe, confidential environment allowing parties in dispute in the workplace to discuss issues focusing on all those involved getting what they want from their working relationships with each other. The added benefit is that all parties have an input into resolving the issue.
What is it?
Mediation is a voluntary opportunity for two parties to agree a solution to a workplace dispute in a neutral, confidential environment thereby avoiding issues escalating and as well as avoiding huge legal costs. Examples include disputes between a manager and a team member who disagrees with their decisions, a personality clash or cultural misunderstandings.
The employer and employee will meet with a mediator at a neutral location, individually at first. This will be followed by a joint meeting – sometimes a mediator will “shuttle” between parties if a face-to-face meeting is inappropriate.
The parties will have a chance to air their views and a chance to speak directly to each other. A joint meeting will cover how the situation got to where it is and will aim to agree on a way to improve the working relationship. The mediator may offer to put the agreement reached by the parties in writing if appropriate. This document is not legally binding but can be helpful in some circumstances.
Mediation can help resolve a disagreement so you can get back to a normal healthy working environment and can re-establish channels of communication that may have been lost.
It can be helpful for the involved parties to hear the other’s point of view face-to-face in a neutral environment. The mediator may also follow up with the parties involved to review how the situation is going.
Mediation can help employers save the significant legal cost of an employment tribunal but also lost productivity and sick leave when employees are unhappy at work. As an employer, you could help avoid a valuable employee resigning, again providing a cost saving, if you have a mediator guiding you.
Mediation is held in a neutral environment focusing on a mutually agreed solution and without the formality of a grievance hearing or an employment tribunal.
The mediator will aim to focus on behaviour and events not personalities. They will prioritise areas of conflict and help the employer and employee to create a plan to help resolve the issue.
As an employer it is important not to ignore a workplace issue as problems can spiral out of control if they aren’t nipped in the bud. Try to adopt an open style of communication where your employees can come to you with issues as this can help to stop small problems becoming bigger issues. If you need help with this, coaching can help.
Mediation has around a 90% success rate, so it can often be worth trying to help avoid matters escalating into grievance or disciplinary hearings or employment tribunals. It also demonstrates that you as an employer are willing to try everything you can to help improve a situation.
Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you are considering mediation. (TCM Accredited Mediator).