Mediation in the Workplace
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a method of dealing with workplace conflict. It can be an effective way of resolving an area of conflict between two parties or preventing an existing issue from escalating further.
Mediation can be a relatively speedy and cost effective way of resolving workplace disputes, delivers beyond the requirements of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance and is encouraged as part of an employer's approach to employee relations.
When is Mediation needed?
There is conflict present in every workplace, most of which can be positive and even creative. However, it is acknowledged that negative conflict can be destructive and disruptive to the workplace and working relationships. A neutral third party (mediator) can assist in overcoming conflict in most situations and can particularly help people to work together more effectively.
If used in the situation of a Grievance or similar complaint, mediation can be utilised at any stage of the formal process, effectively suspending the formal process, whilst this alternative means of dispute resolution is explored.
What does a Mediator do?
The mediator works with and facilitates a process of individual and joint meetings whereby the two parties explore their conflict in a safe and constructive way and work towards a mutual agreement, with a view to working in a more positive way in the future.
By encouraging parties to explore their differences and needs in a safe environment, mediation can lead to a mutually agreed action plan for remedying the situation and moving forward into the future in a positive and constructive way.
The mediator will not be a judge of the situation and will not deem whether the respective sides are ‘right' or ‘wrong' in any given situation but, it will give the parties the opportunity to resolve their differences and build a more effective and harmonious working relationship.
Mediation is based upon the principles of being impartial, voluntary and confidential, thus ensuring that the participants control the progress and own the outcome of the session. The mediator will carry out all pre mediation work and will also provide follow up at regular intervals.
In practice, the mediation will usually last one day and can take place away from the normal working environment.
Benefits of Mediation
- It is voluntary, impartial and confidential
- It can be used alongside or instead of grievance processes
- It uses ground rules to establish conduct and therefore creates an equal playing field
- It is safe and respectful
- It is non adversarial
- The ownership of the outcome lies with the participants
- The focus is on a win:win outcome
- The focus is on the future, not the past
- It can repair and cement relationships
- It is cost effective