Disputes are stressful, expensive, and time consuming. Workplace mediation is a hugely successful way of resolving disputes before they disrupt the workplace and without going to the Employment Tribunal. And yet, not enough businesses are aware of the potential of workplace mediation. We aim to improve awareness of mediation, particularly in Liverpool and the the North West.
Workplace mediation can be used to resolve any number of difficult scenarios. Here are a few examples:
What is Workplace Mediation?
Workplace Mediation: Mediation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Workplace mediation is used to quickly resolve workplace disputes. It is an alternative way of resolving a dispute instead of relying upon cumbersome HR procedures which can often create further conflict and resentment.
When a dispute goes to the employment tribunal it can be one of the most stressful, emotional, time consuming, and expensive experiences for employees and business owners. Workplace mediation gives a fantastic opportunity to avoid this entirely.
Mediation is a voluntary process, confidential at all times, which provides a real opportunity to resolve disputes quickly. It is entirely flexible, so you can resolve your dispute with whatever terms can be agreed between you.
Workplace mediation tends to produce longstanding positive results because the employees are the people who work together to produce a solution. For this reason they are invested in the solution and committed to it.
We use our mediation skills to stop everybody from fixating on the problem. Instead we encourage them to focus on finding a solution which is good enough for everybody. It sounds simple, because it can be.
When should I mediate?
You can use mediation whenever you want to. Claims cannot proceed to the employment tribunal until the parties have first received the ACAS Early Conciliation certificate. This is a form of telephone mediation where the ACAS employee will spend up to 30 days trying to find a solution via a number of telephone calls. Often at this stage the mediation might involve the parties arguing over a sum of money rather than trying to repair the employment relationship.
If we put it simply though, the earlier you use mediation the more you will benefit. Disputes will drag on for a long time before getting to the tribunal. And while it rumbles along towards a Hearing, you will be expected to commit a huge amount of your time, energy, and money in order to maintain your position and prepare for the Hearing.
Obviously, if you mediate a workplace dispute as early as possible, you will have a much greater chance of salvaging the employment relationship than if you wait until the ACAS Early Conciliation.
Proactive vs Reactive?
Mediation is often thought of as being a reactive procedure – a dispute occurs and then you enter mediation in order to resolve it. And it usually does – mediation has a success rate of over 80% in the UK.
But workplace mediation can also be used proactively to prevent disputes from developing. Imagine there is a problem with one of your key employees, and you’re worried that it could develop into something which could disrupt the workforce and see a valued staff member leave to go to a competitor. Simply using HR procedures might not resolve the problem or repair damaged employee relations because HR procedures tend to involve an investigation. When this is completed a decision is imposed on the people involved in the dispute and they are expected to accept it or appeal it.
Finding a lasting solution can be much easier if you use a mediator to help you.
Workplace Mediation – The ‘3D Meeting’ Process
So what does a workplace mediation actually look like? How will it work? Most employers will be asking questions such as these right now, so let me explain how our innovative 3D Meeting format works using an example.
Ian (shift worker) and Carol (line manager) are two of your employees. They have had a difficult relationship culminating in a huge argument 3 months ago. Since then the atmosphere for colleagues in that department has been very difficult and morale is falling. Ian has had meetings with HR and is threatening a formal grievance.
The HR department has suggested workplace mediation, and both Ian and Carol agree to attend. The Company contacts MediateLegal and briefly discusses the dispute. We will assess whether the dispute is suitable for mediation during the first telephone call.
Once we are satisfied that mediation can assist, we suggest a date for initial meetings with Ian and Carol. Before these initial meetings we will usually speak with the Company to discuss the dispute and any issues surrounding it. We will also send a questionnaire to each participant in advance of the first meeting.
Meeting 1 – Discovery
We will meet with Ian and Carol separately, usually for 1 – 2 hours per employee. This is especially useful as it is often the first chance that Ian and Carol may have had to ‘get things off their chest’. For the mediator these meetings often involve a lot of listening and only few words. It also helps the employee to appreciate that each meeting is entirely confidential.
If Ian and Carol both want them present, then HR may sit in on these meetings too. If not, we may arrange a separate meeting with HR to discuss the matter further.
Towards the end of their meeting we start to invite Ian and Carol to look at the dispute from the other’s point of view, and to then consider any suggestions that might help to resolve the issues causing the dispute. The beauty of mediation is its flexibility, and so these suggestions are not tied to company policy or HR legislation.
We would arrange a second set of meetings for that afternoon, or the first opportunity thereafter. We tell Ian and Carol that they will have the option to speak to each other in an open meeting if they feel comfortable doing so. We ask them to think about what came out of these meetings, and to think of possible solutions to the dispute in the interim period before the next meetings.
Meeting 2 – Discussion
We will meet separately with Ian and Carol and encourage them to come to a meeting involving; one another, the mediator, and (if requested) a member of HR. During this meeting we will give each of them an opportunity to speak frankly to each other and to explain how they have viewed events so far. We ask them to consider the other’s point of view, and we then move the discussion on to what suggestions are available to resolve this conflict.
At every step both Ian and Carol are heavily involved in this process. Their involvement is key to the longevity of any agreed outcome.
Usually, these meetings would end with a plan of action agreed by Ian and Carol, signed by them both, and potentially passed to HR to make them aware. We end the meeting by advising Ian and Carol that we will arrange to come back a third time, in a few weeks usually, to have a half day of follow up meetings to review how things have progressed.
Meeting 3 – Debrief
Sometimes these meetings are very brief – Ian and Carol are happy with their new working relationship and agree to continue on that basis. Sometimes however we are called upon to reshape agreements to overcome any hiccups of developments which have only come to light recently. This is exactly why we incorporate a longer period between meetings 2 and 3, than between meetings 1 and 2.
Our final act on day 3 is a meeting with HR or a company contact to discuss the case and how the employer feels it has worked for the business.
We would always recommend the 3D Mediation format as it has proven benefits.
Our fees are straightforward – we charge £650 + VAT per half day session (4 hours) for the first two half day sessions. Most workplace mediations will require at least 2 half day sessions if they are to be successful.
If a dispute is particularly deep seated, then additional sessions can be booked where necessary at a discounted cost of £400.00 + VAT per half day session.
The above fees do not include VAT.
The only other costs would be the cost for hiring rooms if the employer is not able to provide suitable rooms or if the parties wish to use an independent venue, or overnight travelling costs of the mediator.
Mediation Retainer Package
A recent addition to our products – we offer a reduced cost package to acknowledge your commitment to mediation. Under our annual mediation retainer package, you pay an annual fee equivalent to the cost of 10 full day mediations. For this you will receive 12 full day mediations in a single calendar year. These mediations can be used by you to resolve any type of dispute.
Under this retainer a single mediation will involve 1 full day mediation session. For workplace mediations, it will involve our 3D Mediation format.
The retainer package is particularly useful to large businesses, law firms, local authorities, housing associations, frameworks, healthcare providers, or accountancy firms. The monetary and time savings for a business could be enormous.
We believe every business can benefit from mediation training for its employees. It has many benefits including reducing conflict in the workplace, improving morale, improving sales, and adding valuable negotiation skills.
If you are interested in discussing this, please call us on 0151 363 3972, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MediateLegal will take the time to attend your premises to provide a full assessment on whether your business should benefit from a bespoke mediation training session. We will ask you some detailed questions about your business and employees, and put together a tailored package to best suit your needs.