Mediation is an increasingly popular way for businesses to resolve disputes as it reduces stress, resolves conflict and restores working relationships, all in substantially less time than it takes to conduct a formal grievance.
Everybody has experienced conflict at some point in their lives, but when conflict arises at work it can be even more impactful. After all, on average, we spend more time at work than doing anything else.
Workplace conflict can take a variety of forms, including employee grievances, disputes between a manager and an employee or simply a personality clash between colleagues.
Such conflict can be very stressful and unpleasant for anyone involved and those around them; and if left unaddressed it can also prove to be very costly to a business. It can distract people from their day-to-day work, can result in employees leaving, or, in the worst scenario, can even result in an employment tribunal claim being made.
Early action like mediation is the key to resolving such conflict and preventing people from becoming entrenched. It can save time, money and stress, and also avoid potentially costly disputes developing.
Legislation has forced businesses to look at having formal policies and procedures in place to deal with workplace disputes (such as a grievance procedure). However, some situations may be better resolved using a less formal approach. For example, personality clashes are almost impossible to resolve using grievance processes.
What is workplace mediation?
Workplace mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that can be used to attempt to resolve workplace conflict. The mediation is usually carried out by a trained mediator who works with all parties to try to reach an agreed solution that is satisfactory to everyone involved.
The mediator is an impartial third party and mediation is not a legal process. The mediator’s role is not to make a judgement on who’s right and who’s in the wrong. Their role is to help all parties understand the issues involved and help clarify the options available, with a view to collaborating rather than blaming and to reaching an agreement that suits both sides and resolves the conflict.
The prevailing aim of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain good and productive working relationships.
Why use mediation?
- Mediation can be a cost efficient way to resolve what could become a costly legal dispute
- Mediation offers a way for employment disputes to be settled confidentially
- Mediation can offer a faster and more flexible approach to resolving workplace disputes than a formal grievance process or employment tribunal hearing
Dealing with disputes in the workplace is always problematic, but early support and use of a professional mediator can offer a realistic and cost effective way to minimise the disruption to your business.
When would I use workplace mediation?
Typical situations when mediation could benefit include:
- Where there is perceived bullying, harassment or discrimination
- Pay or contractual disputes
- Providing an alternative to formal disciplinary/grievance procedures
- Issues arising from mergers and acquisitions
- Rebuilding a working relationship after a formal disciplinary/grievance process
- Helping colleagues to form effective working relationships where a personality clash has arisen
- Disputes between business partners
- Disputes with customers or along the supply chain.
What outcomes can I expect from workplace mediation?
The best-case scenario in mediation is that all parties come to a mutually agreed resolution to overcome the conflict, which will allow a good working relationship to be restored. Everyone will have had a chance to be heard, which can help to improve the understanding of both sides into the future.
However, mediation is dependent on the willingness and openness of the parties involved to reach a solution.
If an agreement is reached through the mediation process, then a binding document can be drawn up for both parties to enter into.
How can Kent HR assist with workplace mediation?
Kent HR have fully trained workplace mediators who can independently help to solve employee issues and disputes through mediation.
Costs and fee structure
Typically we would allow one day for each mediation session and there is also additional contact made with all parties, in the lead up to and following mediation. It is essential that all individuals are willing to participate in the mediation process, in order for mediation to take place.
Why not let us help you decide on whether mediation could support your situation. Contact us to discuss the matter confidentially and we will help you decide on the best option.