What is Workplace Mediation?

At Metis HR, we regularly receive enquiries about many HR issues and one question asked is ‘What is Workplace Mediation? Workplace Mediation is defined by ACAS as ‘a completely voluntary and confidential form of resolving workplace disputes between people’. It involves an independent third party considering an employment problem and working with those concerned to try and seek an amicable resolution for everyone. Both ACAS and tribunals actively encourage parties to engage in Workplace Mediation. A methodical approach to Workplace Mediation may help resolve conflicts, improve communication, restore trust and allow the parties to move forward.

What is workplace mediation?

When is Workplace Mediation Appropriate?

Workplace Mediation can be used to resolve a variety of workplace disputes. It can be helpful in cases where there is a dispute between employees who are both willing to resolve their differences. Workplace Mediation can also be used in the early stages of an employee’s grievance or potential disciplinaries to help promote resolutions without the need for formal action. It can also be used as a formal follow-up to formal proceedings.

There is no set form to mediation and mediators can be flexible as to how the parties approach it. They can sit around a table and discuss the issues in an open forum, using the mediator to chair, or the mediator can pass back and forth between the parties and discuss their issues separately.

Qualified Workplace Mediators will often think of practical and innovative solutions to complex problems, and suggest outcomes appropriate for the individuals and business involved. Workplace Mediation allows much more flexibility than the courts have when considering remedies to disputes.

When is it Not Appropriate?

There are, of course, circumstances when mediation is not an appropriate response to dealing with a workplace issue. A situation involving serious or potentially gross misconduct, for example, would need to be dealt with through a formal disciplinary process. Nevertheless, workplace mediation can still follow a formal process to help resolve ongoing issues. Mediation is a voluntary process and everyone has to be willing to enter in to it.

A commercial view also needs to be taken, as a business should only really consider incurring the cost of appointing a professional meditator if all parties are willing to engage in the process.

Advantages

Workplace Mediation can be an efficient and cost-effective way of dealing with employment problems. A skilled mediator will quickly identify the key issues in a case and establish what outcome both sides want to achieve.

There are no timelines for mediation as it can be used alongside any stage of certain formal processes. It can be used in the workplace at the very outset of a grievance with a view to resolving problems informally and pragmatically. It can also be used before or during litigation. Employment tribunals or court proceedings can be time-consuming, expensive and stressful. Therefore, workplace mediation offers a pragmatic alternative. Sometimes, even if a case is not completely resolved by mediation, it can still be very effective in narrowing the issues and steering the parties towards settlement.

Discussions that are conducted during mediation are not binding and the whole process is entirely confidential.  There can be potentially a fast resolution to a tense employee situation. Generally, it is more cost effective dealing with an unproductive work environment rather than ignoring it. It relieves workplace stress and the conflict it creates. It’s a positive step to getting those involved in the outcomes they want. It helps to create positive relationships within the workplace.

Disadvantages

The main downside of workplace mediation is that there is no guarantee of a resolution. It could be seen as an expensive process if an outcome cannot be reached. Therefore, it is only really worthwhile if both parties are prepared to compromise. Some people want to ‘have their day in court’ and feel a sense of injustice if the process is not seen through or from their prospective.

Metis HR Workplace Mediator

Our Workplace Mediator Ali Penney explains more about her professional experience as a workplace mediator.

Ali provides on-site workplace mediation services. Designed to resolve workplace conflicts between employees who have previously worked well together. For further details email Ali Penney on mediation@metishr.co.uk

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.

Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how workplace mediation can help you now.

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