in the workplace

Mediation in the workplace is a process of resolving conflicts between employees with the help of a neutral third party.

At People Business we have qualified and accredited mediators ready to facilitate communication between conflicting parties and help them reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Mediation can be an effective tool for resolving disputes which might otherwise escalate into more serious issues. Mediation doesn’t preclude either party from later bringing a grievance but is a ‘without prejudice’ confidential conversation; this often means that mediation in the workplace can resolve the challenge without the need for a formal HR process. Because of this, many organisations are now including the need to go through mediation before bringing a formal complaint part of their grievance procedure.

Mediation promotes open communication, understanding and cooperation, and can improve relationships between employees. The mediator works to bring the two parties together to establish a mutual way forward, rather than driving a ‘win-lose’ agenda often resulting from a grievance.

Importantly, a mediation process and the resulting agreement is confidential between the two parties involved – the ‘client’ is not entitled to receive anything from the mediator. It is for the parties to decide how much they share and with whom; the proof of the mediation comes from how effectively the parties work together afterwards.

Below is an illustration of how People Business can help through mediation services:

The situation

There was conflict in the workplace between two colleagues who were in disagreement on a regular basis, often resulting in curt verbal and email exchanges between them. One of the parties was threatening to bring formal proceedings against the other.

What did People Business do?

It was agreed that impartial mediation support would be the most appropriate course of action and the employees concerned agreed to take part in the process. The overall aim was to assist the employees create and sustain a more constructive and healthy professional relationship.

The process for mediation in the workplace

  1. Individual sessions

Our consultant met with the employees individually as an introductory session to explain the process in full, answer any questions and address any concerns before exploring with each party their key issues in relation to the conflict.

  1. Joint meeting(s)

A facilitated meeting took place between them both and the key principles of mediation were explained as well as some ground rules to enhance the quality of the conversation. The issues were discussed, explored and constructive solutions encouraged.

  1. Designing an agreement

Following on from the facilitated meetings a document was produced containing a summary of the important issues discussed and agreed on, using their own words about how they decided to move forward. The agreement was not in any way legally binding, merely to assist with setting out clearly the agreement made.

  1. Closing the mediation

Once the agreement had been reached those involved were given responsibility for its implementation. The agreement is not shared with the client and feed back is not given unless this is specifically requested by the two individuals involved in the grievance; in this case, we were not asked to provide feedback, but we did inform the two parties that we would check in on progress following the mediation in the workplace and their return to work.

  1. Follow-up

Follow up with the client indicated that some of the challenges appeared to have been resolved relatively quickly and they were optimistic that this would improve further moving forward.

  1. Coaching for the line manager

In addition to the mediation support, we also provided the line manager with coaching sessions to enable him to feel more confident about how to handle difficult employee situations in the future.

What else can People Business offer?

In addition to professional mediation services, we can also support your business on the journey to embedding mediation into your HR practices. Changes in policy and culture are important in equal measure when successfully introducing mediation.

If you require support in this area, do get in touch . And for further reading, check out our interview with People Business’s Senior Talent Consultant and qualified mediator, Daniel Roberts-Green.