Common misconceptions preventing businesses from using mediation
Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential way of resolving workplace disputes between employees. It works by using an independent, impartial person to assist employees who are having issues in the workplace to reach a solution that is acceptable to the parties. The mediator does not make a judgment or finding in the matter, rather they facilitate an agreement between them.
The overall aim of mediation is to restore and maintain employment relationships. But when should it be considered? Many employers think that mediation doesn’t lend itself to their situation. This blog will tackle some commonly held misconceptions that might be stopping your business from using this varied and successful method of solving staff disputes and boosting morale.
Mediation can’t be used for problems between managers and their juniors
It might be tempting to see mediation purely as a solution between employees of the same rank. However, mediation lends itself to disputes between employees of all levels and can even be used in group disputes. It usually takes place over one or two days, depending on the number of employees involved, and allows each employee to give their side of the disagreement to the mediator alone. All of the employees will then be brought together with the mediator, and the group will work to achieve a solution. The mediator’s role isn’t to come up with the answer, but to help the parties assess what would work in their circumstances. If the mediation is successful, the mediator will write up a written agreement that the parties will take away.
This method allows each employee to be heard by a qualified and impartial person. This means that in a scenario where an employee feels intimidated by their manager, mediation allows them to voice how they feel, freely and openly. This could be more appropriate than heading straight to a formal grievance procedure which may feel intimating to any employee, regardless of their position within the company.
An employee has raised a grievance, I can’t use mediation now
Mediation can be used at any stage of a conflict, as long as any formal procedures are paused for the duration of the mediation. If an employee has raised a grievance, but is happy to attempt mediation as a way of resolving their issue, the grievance proceedings can be put on hold, provided that the employee is aware that the procedures can be restarted if the mediation is unsuccessful.
It’s important to remember that each situation is unique and should be judged on a case by case merit. Mediation may not be appropriate where an individual has brought a discrimination or harassment case and wants it investigated promptly. However, mediation can be very powerful and valuable in many cases.
If you have an issue that could lend itself to mediation or an employee dispute that you need advice on, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 9969.