Workplace mediation is a practical process for allowing employees to air and resolve their workplace conflict and re-build working relationships. It can assist employees to move away from hostility and encourage them to engage in rational dialogue and work towards generating solutions.
It’s a voluntary, confidential discussion by the relevant people about the issues in dispute, managed by an independent mediator. The mediation can help you:
- Tackle issues before they get out of hand.
- Reduce the likelihood that employees will make external or legal complaints.
- Assist your employees to be responsible for their own behaviour and their working relationships.
- Improve team effectiveness, morale and productivity, and encourage mutual respect.
- Demonstrate to employees and stakeholders that concerns are taken seriously.
What happens in a workplace mediation?
Mediation is flexible and can be altered to suit the particular situation and needs of the parties involved. Typically, it will consist of the following steps:
- Initial liaison to check that mediation is appropriate, that the parties want to participate and to make logistical arrangements – dates, times, venue etc.
- One-on-one meetings – A separate meeting with each party (usually for about an hour) where each person has the opportunity to explain the problem or dispute from their perspective and their preferred outcomes.
- Joint meeting – Meeting jointly, the mediator and all parties talk about the concerns and work towards an agreement that the parties are able to accept.
- Time – Every mediation is different, but a rule of thumb is approximately three to four hours for a mediation discussion.
- Follow-Up – The process is flexible so there may be agreement to have more than one meeting or to meet in the future to check back in on how things are going.
When to use workplace mediation
Workplace mediation is an appropriate measure in situations where:
- Parties to a grievance are willing or prefer for a matter to be dealt with informally through a mediated process rather than through a formal investigation.
- The matters do not involve serious misconduct or a serious breach of company policy, but rather are a result of misunderstanding, personality clashes or a difference of opinion.
- The matter can be resolved realistically through mediation.