With the growing popularity of using mediation, we are asked is workplace mediation is compulsory. Workplace Mediation is used to deal with conflict between employees. This has grown over the past 20 years or so. However, there has been little attention paid to the variety of approaches That can be used. And whether workplace mediation can be made compulsory or not.
What is Problem Solving Mediation?
There are various choices of approach within the general style. Before commissioning mediation to resolve a specific conflict, it’s worth considering which approach would be the most suitable for your situation.
The aim of problem-solving mediation is simply to help parties reach an agreement by resolving the ‘issues’ that are causing the conflict. Through helping the parties to really ‘listen’. They may come to a better understanding of their own and the other person’s feelings and perceptions. And through such improved communication, resolution of issues may follow.
What is Voluntary Workplace Mediation?
Voluntary Workplace Mediation involves an impartial mediator assessing the issues. They then evaluate the relative merits of each party’s position. The mediator helps the parties reach agreements or forms of reasoned compromise. The Workplace Mediator is neutral with respect to both the parties and any solutions found.
Workplace Mediators manage a structured meeting process, asking questions to identify interests and needs. They work with the parties to find options for resolution. They also pay attention to the emotional aspects of the conflict.
Can Workplace Mediation be Compulsory?
Although Workplace Mediation is not currently compulsory, we believe HR departments have reached a stage where mediation needs to be mandatory. The expected route for dealing with conflict in the first instance, should be mediation, especially if an employee has raised a grievance. Metis HR recommend to all our clients they have a Mediation clause within their Grievance policy and procedures.
Despite all the work on raising awareness of the benefits of mediation, it’s still an under-used approach, and usually as a last resort. All organisations need to be working on a basis of trust and openness. That means being able to have grown-up conversations, not running to formal dispute processes, blame, recriminations and tribunals. The number of employees turning to an employment tribunal went up 10% in the last year. However, the backlog is up 39%.
Can Rational People become Irrational?
Yes. Perfectly rational people become judgemental, aggressive and blinkered when emotional issues take over during conflict. We stop listening and seem adamant the other person’s wrong. In this frame of mind, we’re not likely to say yes to voluntary workplace mediation. Employees are reluctant to have an open conversation, (‘I don’t want them to know anything about me’). To be honest (‘but if I’m really honest, I’ll be dismissed’). Or trusting (‘trust them? Why should I?’).
However, if by making compulsory mediation part of an organisations transparent and open policy, everyone in conflict already knows they’ll be asked and expected to give it a try. In time, it will become a normal part of working life. Not strange, not an admission of failure or personal shortcomings. A mandatory approach takes away none of an employee’s rights. They are not obliged to reach an agreement. They’re not obliged to even actively engage. It doesn’t matter, because, despite themselves, many of them will find the joint meeting a surprisingly positive experience.
If you would like more information on how to make Workplace Mediation Compulsory part of your organisations conflict resolution culture call 01706 565332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.