All about workplace mediation

A harmonious and positive working environment is something which we all wish for. However, disagreements and disputes do happen. If these disputes are not handled well and are left to fester they can cause ongoing issues for everyone in the workplace. Dealt with in a professional and supportive manner, they can simply be a “bump” in the road.

Workplace mediation is a confidential and voluntary process focused on helping parties move forward following a dispute, disagreement or conflict in the workplace. A successful mediation process can help prevent upset, absence and potentially even lengthy and expensive legal disputes and costs for the employer.

When relations in the workplace aren’t constructive, positive and/or professional it can have wide reaching ramifications not just for the parties involved but also for the wider teams. Handling these disputes can take significant management time in either investigating allegations or complaints or in attempting to “keep the peace” to enable other colleagues to focus on delivering core day to day business.

A mediator is a neutral and professionally qualified third party who supports both sides in working together to identify an agreed solution that everyone involved is happy with.

Mediation is not a legal process, nor are mediators all legally trained. Their role is not to pass judgement on the event(s), indeed the mediator shouldn’t make any decisions at all during the process! Their role is to help each party understand all of the issues involved, help them look at matters from different perspectives and to identify options to move towards a mutually agreed way forward.

The focus of workplace mediation is not to go into all of the issues nor specific details regarding what has led to the conflict, but rather to focus on the future and how good, productive and professional relationships can be restored.

All matters in mediation are classed as “without prejudice”. This essentially means that anything discussed during the mediation cannot then be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings, should the mediation fail to reach an agreed solution to the dispute.

It is the role of the mediator to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard which can help to improve the understanding of both sides going forward.

The outcome everyone in mediation wishes to achieved is that all parties come to an agreed way forward to move on from the current situation and one which allows a good working relationship to be restored.

Mediation works! It is faster than any formal process and can normally be done in a day and is significant cheaper that the potential alternatives!

The cost of a tribunal claim can run into thousands of pounds and can take months, if not years to reach a conclusion. This, coupled with the costs of staff absence and/or recruitment, onboarding and training of replacement staff let alone the number of management hours are all substantial.

Furthermore, as an employer executing your duty of care to your employees and actively demonstrating a commitment to fair and mature solutions to disputes. In the event of an agreement not being achieved, it also demonstartes to any legal process an approach of reasonableness by the organistion in the attempt to resolve conflicts as they arise.

Janine has almost 25 years senior management experience and offers workplace mediation alongside leadership and management development sessions and individual and team coaching. She is qualified and registered mediator with the Civil Mediation Council (CMC).

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