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Workplace Conflict – A Time To Mediate?

Workplace conflict can have a devastating effect on a company’s productivity and profitability. It will quickly exhaust valuable time of your management, HR and legal departments. It can also have a really negative effect on morale amongst employees.

Broadly speaking, there are typically 3 stages to a workplace dispute before it eventually escalates to require formal intervention, and perhaps as far as the Employment Tribunal:

  1. A trigger event starts the dispute, and things often escalate quickly;
  2. Positions become entrenched, and intervention from a line manager or HR dept is required;
  3. Relationships break down completely creating a toxic atmosphere. Formal grievance allegations are made, requiring HR intervention and legal professional assistance.

The length of time between points 1 and 3 will vary from weeks to months to years, but the cost to the employer in terms of lost productivity, reduced morale, and reduced profitability will grow and grow.

Mediation offers a genuine alternative. Using Mediatelegal to mediate workplace conflict will follow a new process:

  1. A trigger event starts the dispute, and things often escalate quickly;
  2. The parties to the dispute agree to attend mediation to attempt to resolve it.

Often, there will be no additional stages required. Mediation has a remarkable success rate of over 80%. Why does it work so well? There are many reasons but here are a select few:

  1. Because they speak to an independent person (the mediator) the employee doesn’t feel threatened.
  2. The employee takes an active part in agreeing a lasting solution to the dispute (via the mediator), and so they are invested in the process.
  3. The follow up meeting allows a chance for review and reflection of how the agreed process is working for each participant; and the chance to take on board new suggestions going forward.

Workplace conflict is widespread. It is expensive too. The CIPD ‘Conflict Management: A Shift In Direction’ Research Report (March 2015) found that employers spend on average 19 days of management time dealing with individual Employment Tribunal (ET) cases. Companies with over 250 employees spend 20 days dealing with ET cases; while smaller companies spend 12 days.

Meanwhile, responses to the Winter 2014-15 Labour Market Outlook survey showed that almost 1 in 10 organisations had used an external mediator.

What does a workplace mediation process actually look like?

Mediation isn’t as widely used as it should be, so I imagine that this question is probably in your mind right now. I don’t want to write a lengthy article here and so I will give you a very brief overview. I have developed our ‘3D Mediation’ format to give my clients the best possible chance of reaching an agreed outcome. It typically involves 3 sets of meetings over 2 days. The first 2 sets of meetings take place over 1 full day, and we then have a follow up meetings several weeks later. This format has a proven track record of success. We can provide a more detailed overview of our 3D Mediation model if requested.

Interested in workplace mediation?

If you think workplace mediation might be of interest to your business, and you would like a more detailed explanation of the process and our fees, please feel free to contact me by telephone or email at 0151 363 3972 or help@mediatelegal.co.uk.

Workplace mediation

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Did you know?

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A 2008 CIPD survey found that 51% of respondents use an external mediator to resolve people problems and conflict.

13th September 2016

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