Conflicts at work can really damage a business. Arguments between staff can start by lowering the morale of the whole team and damaging productivity. And they can cause greater problems: it could lead to staff leaving and disgruntled employees taking legal action against your company. Mediation can facilitate resolving these conflicts and restore peace to the team and your company.
The mediator is independent and assists both parties to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion. The aim is not to make judgements and decide who is “right” and “wrong”. Instead, the process is forward-looking and focuses on encouraging the participants to decide their own outcome and agree a way to work together in the future. Mediation is completely confidential between the participants and the mediator. The mediator’s role is to challenge the participants in an open, neutral way to see if an agreeable solution can be reached.
The length of time that mediation takes can vary according to the individuals involved and the severity of the situation. Typically the mediator will meet with each participant separately to discuss the process and aims. This would then be followed up by sessions which can be a mixture of joint discussions with all participants and private discussions involving just one individual. Sometimes participants like to have a trade union representative with them, or a colleague. In more difficult cases they might like to have their lawyer. Sometimes it is useful to have these people present as long as all participants are happy with this. However, it may not always be appropriate for others to be involved, especially as the mediation process progresses. Through the joint and private sessions the mediator creates the conditions for discussion using a non-adversarial, non-partisan approach. The final outcome of mediation is agreed by the participants, not the mediator.
As well a resolving conflicts at the workplace, mediation can also be beneficial when a working relationship comes to an end. When an employee leaves a firm in an acrimonious situation, this can lead to a long and expensive battle between the lawyers ending in a public Employment Tribunal hearing. Mediation can be very effective in resolving such disputes quickly and cost-effectively. This would then be followed up by signing a settlement agreement (previously known as a compromise agreement) to make the agreement legally binding.
Mediation as a method of conflict resolution has a very high success rate. Statistics typically rate mediation as having a 75 to 90% rate of success and participants are positive about the process as they are in control. Can you really afford to let disagreements, clashes and problems linger and grow out of control?