Mediation is where an independent and impartial person helps two or more people to reach a solution surrounding a dispute in the workplace*. Conflict between colleagues can take on many different forms and at times this can lead to sickness absence. An employer has a duty of care to ensure that they deal with this conflict in a timely manner and therefore ensure not only the health and wellbeing of those involved but of other colleagues as well. Research carried out by the CIPD shows that workplace conflict is most likely to be resolved when direct action, either informal or formal, is taken**. Do you understand when mediation is and is not appropriate?
When is workplace mediation appropriate?
- In cases where employees are in dispute and are both willing to resolve their conflict.
- Early stages of potential disciplinaries or employee grievances to help promote resolutions without the need for formal action.
- Where the employment relationship is continuing, as the parties will want to ensure there is a good working relationship moving forward.
- In place of court to allow more flexibility in the solutions to the dispute.
When is workplace mediation not appropriate?
- A decision about right or wrong is needed, such as in cases of criminal activity, when disciplinary procedures are more effective.
- When a formal investigation is necessary such as discrimination or harassment claims.
- When one of the parties is experiencing mental health problems, such as severe stress, that will stop them from attending a meeting.
- It is clear that the parties cannot settle the issue.
- If all parties are not voluntarily willing to enter into it.
Mediation can be an efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with employment problems. A highly skilled mediator will effectively identify the main issues in a case and establish what solution both sides want to achieve. The quicker that mediation is utilised in a dispute, the higher the chance of successfully solving the conflict and improving relationships. If the conflict is prolonged without mediation, the situation may become worse and may then be unresolvable. The CIPD makes a strong case for the development of mediation and relationship building skills throughout organisations, encouraging them to make it an essential part of people management**.
Our sister company FusionHR can support schools and businesses with mediation. If you would like to discuss the service further, please do not hesitate to call one of the team on 01924 827869.