Conflict exists in all areas of life, not least in the workplace. Most of the time such conflict is managed through informal discussion and negotiation. However, when communication becomes difficult, disputes can arise and relationships can be damaged. Such disputes can lead to litigation or the loss to a business of key staff members. Damaged relationships can adversely affect the operation of a whole team.
A workplace mediator is an independent, impartial third party, skilled in conflict resolution whose involvement can help people to achieve a lasting understanding without the need to resort to formal processes where they have no control over the outcome.
Workplace mediation is appropriate where there are:
- Conflicts and disagreements between employees and within teams;
- Conflicts arising from change and the management of change;
- Conflicts arising from the reintegration of employees after formal processes, a grievance or disciplinary action, a period of sickness or following suspension;
- Employment disputes including claims of unfair dismissal, for equal pay or redundancy pay or issues over terms and conditions and flexible working.
Workplace mediation is an informal but structured process where the mediator helps people with a disagreement or dispute to create a way forward. Mediation introduces a powerful new dynamic to any negotiation or dispute discussion. It can enable people both to restore and to develop healthy working relationships. It is future focussed, being concerned with how things will be from now on rather than with finding blame for how things have been in the past. It is optional- any party can withdraw from the process at any time.
Workplace mediation’s goal is for those involved to negotiate their own solutions to the issues between them. The mediator does not express views about how to handle a specific conflict nor make recommendations or advise on a course of action. The mediator’s role is to try to help the parties to find their own resolution by exploring the conflict situation, developing understanding, identifying acceptable ways forward and, where appropriate, reaching an understanding on ways of working together.
The content of the mediation is confidential. The mediator will not divulge anything said during the mediation process without the permission of the parties involved, unless not doing so would involve the mediator in breaking the law.
Workplace mediation can help to resolve the position for instance where a grievance has been dealt with. That often leaves a situation where the two people involved in the grievance have to continue working together. Mediation can help there by repairing the relationships so that the two can find a way to co-work effectively.