Why do we need workplace mediation?

An organisation’s employees are vital to its success, whether that success is measured in goods sold in a shop or the quality of education offered by a school or college. Nothing is more disruptive to that success than a conflict between two colleagues. Friction within the team can have a disastrous impact on productivity, motivation and engagement, but the effects are not felt only at work. Colleagues engaged in a dispute will take their resentment and anxiety home with them, where it will impact on their home lives, denying them the respite that home should offer and making the problem even worse. It also affects individuals’ physical and mental health and their overall well-being.

About workplace mediation

Mediation in the workplace has been around for over 30 years, and its success in resolving disputes has been recognised by individuals, trades unions, employers’ organisations and the government. It is increasingly popular with employers who recognise that it is more important to help their employees work out their own solutions to their difficulties rather than to impose a solution.

Workplace mediation is an informal and entirely confidential process wherein the two parties to the dispute work together to explore their difficulty, understand it, and then identify and develop means of overcoming it and putting it behind them.

They do this by working with an impartial third party – the mediator – who helps in the mediation process but does not seek to impose any particular solution on those taking part. The process focusses on the effects of the dispute, helping everyone to come to a full understating of it and its impact. It is not about identifying who is right and who is wrong, and it is certainly not about apportioning blame for what has gone before. It is about identifying what can be done to fix the problem, and working out a clear strategy for the future.

Workplace mediation offers a safe and secure environment in which the participants can express themselves openly and honestly. The process is entirely confidential and nothing that is said in the room is ever repeated thereafter.

The outcome of workplace mediation is, in round 90 per cent of cases, a settlement agreement. Unlike other forms of mediation, that agreement is not legally binding in workplace mediation but it is certainly morally binding. The agreement is also a private document between the individuals concerned, and nothing that is in it is ever shared with anyone else without the express permission of the individuals involved. That includes the employer.