Mediation is an increasingly popular way for businesses to resolve disputes as it reduces stress, resolves conflict early, restores working relationships and reduces the costs and time taken in conducting a formal grievance.
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.
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.
How does workplace mediation work?
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
When to consider workplace mediation
Workplace mediation is a successful practice for many types of situation in the workplace including:
- 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 in to.
How can Kent HR assist with workplace mediation?
Kent HR has fully trained workplace mediators who can independently help to solve employee issues and disputes through mediation.
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.
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