Ten Tips on Workplace Mediation

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Having a cohesive workplace is important for the business as well as the employee, we spend a third of our day with our work colleagues so it is important that we have a decent and respectful relationships with them. However not all relationships are harmonious, feelings of harassment, intimidation and bullying are prevalent in the workplace and this is contributing to the overwhelming levels of stress, anxiety and mental ill health.

When employees are struggling with a situation in the workplace it can have detrimental physical, emotional and psychological side effects. They may feel that a colleague or manager is picking on them or that they just cannot work together. If conflict is not addressed in its early stages it can escalate and result in increased levels of stress, higher levels of absence, a reduction in productivity and teamwork and ultimately costly grievance, disciplinary or tribunal costs.

Employers need to find ways to spot issues and create a culture of openness, allowing workers to voice their concerns and finding ways to resolve conflict before it reaches crisis point. They say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, most resolutions to conflict come about from good old fashioned talking, a far simpler and potentially less costly solution.

Mediation by definition is ‘intervention in a dispute to resolve it’, it will not be right for all situations but is a good way of moving forward in a positive way. In many scenarios the conflicts are down to people’s perception and interpretation of events, these may not be intentional, mediation allows the parties to sit down together, express their feelings and, with the help of the mediator, find a common ground.

It would be good if companies had a clear Policy on mediation and provide training to managers on how to deal with difficult situations as well as how to carry out early stage mediation meetings.

Ten top tips for a carrying out a mediation meeting;
  • address issues as soon as possible to stop them from growing and festering
  • choose a comfortable environment, a quiet meeting room or somewhere on neutral ground
  • ensure you tell them that everything they say will remain confidential
  • be impartial
  • allow each party to express their feelings
  • encourage each party to listen to the other
  • explain that there are no expectations and no winners or losers
  • listen
  • explain to both parties that they mustn’t be disheartened if it doesn’t seem to be working
  • work towards a resolution, don’t focus on the past
If in house mediation is unsuccessful it may be worth looking at hiring a professional workplace mediator. Whilst this will carry a cost it will still be more economical than the damages, costs and risks of escalating it to a more formal process.

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