Workplace Mediation and Dispute Resolution

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Workplace Mediation and Dispute Resolution

Workplace disputes, either regularly, or from time to time, are unfortunately almost unavoidable for employers. Disputes can be between employees, whether caused by alleged bullying, harassment or personality clashes or between employer and employee, where performance or conduct may be at issue or the employee may feel undervalued and raise a grievance.

Research carried out by the CIPD found that an average employer spent 32 work days every year (which in monetary terms the CBI assessed as costing £33 billion annually for UK businesses) dealing with internal staff issues such as disciplinary and grievance issues. That’s a huge time commitment and doesn’t take into account that many such issues were not resolved and resulted in employment tribunal claims, adding further significant time and cost implications.

The number of claims brought by employees is increasing due to fees being abolished. Employees may believe that they are forced to bring a claim when their dispute is not properly dealt with. Other employees maybe underperforming, disenchanted or become troublemakers. Either way, employees raising grievances or employers taking disciplinary action can be a drain on management time and resources.

An alternative to dealing with grievances and disciplinary issues is workplace mediation.

Benefits of workplace mediation

  • Mediation works – data suggests a full or partial resolution in about 80% of cases.
  • Saving time, money and stress for you as employer.
  • Better chance of an issue at work being resolved rather than determined with one party happy and the other remaining bitterly unhappy.
  • Increases the chances of retaining good employees.
  • Improved relationships and morale with and between employees.
  • Reduction in employment tribunal claims, which are expensive and could also involve bad publicity.
  • Reduced problems of stress-induced sickness. Research by mental health charity, MIND, suggests that almost 20% of employees take sick leave due to stress. Employees may feel more trusting dealing with an independent, external mediator rather than an HR team or management who they may perceive to have a pre-conceived view of them.
  • Nearly 50% of employers are now using workplace mediation according to ACAS.
  • Offers an objective overview and insight into dynamics, culture and internal which may lead to lessons being learnt, improved morale and performance going forward.
  • Mediation is especially effective at the initial stage of a disagreement before conflict escalates and both sides from becoming entrenched

What types of workplace conflict resolution are suitable for mediation?

  • Issues between employees or within teams.
  • Conflicts between senior managers and other leaders and decision makers.
  • Change management.
  • Allegations of bullying.
  • Claims relating to harassment or discrimination.
  • Issues arising with employees already subject to a disciplinary sanction and on some form of probation.
  • Reintegrating employees absent due to sickness.
  • Determining difficult issues relating to possible disability and what, if any, reasonable adjustments need to be made as a consequence.
  • Equal pay.
  • Terms and conditions or flexible working.
  • Collective disputes.

Key points relating to mediation

  • Mediation is very flexible.
  • The process is not binding unless an agreement is reached, and can be made to be confidential of the employer, so creating trust for employees to use.
  • Mediators avoid taking sides, making judgments, determining outcomes or giving guidance. They are simply responsible for developing effective communications and building consensus between the parties – they ask questions that help to assist the parties to understand the issues and clarify the options for resolving the dispute.

Contact IBB’s workplace mediation and dispute resolution experts today

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