If you have ever been in involved in a workplace conflict or grievance you will know the costs that come with it:
- personal – not many of us enjoy conflict or even having difficult conversations, and conflict at work can lead to people dreading each day. If this becomes a formal grievance, this can be very stressful, having a significant impact on the individual and those around them, and often leading to time off work.
- time – managing conflict can take up valuable time, for all involved. Where a formal grievance is concerned the time taken for the investigation, report, hearing, and potential appeal can be significant.
- financial – on top of the time taken out of the business, one or both of those involved will often take sickness absence causing loss of productivity and/or the cost of providing additional cover.
- business impact – conflict between individuals can quickly spread to the wider team and have an impact on the business itself and the service to customers/clients, particularly where people are no longer communicating effectively with each other.
All of these costs only increase if the conflict leads to an Employment Tribunal case, involving more time, legal fees and the impact on reputation.
Unfortunately, even good teams and good people can find themselves dealing with conflict.
Fortunately there is another way to approach these difficult situations.
Mediation is what is called an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – finding a different route to solve problems, rather than relying on grievances and employment tribunals.
It involves the mediator first meeting with each individual to understand their concerns, challenges and aspirations; then facilitating a conversation with all parties together, exploring and agreeing a mutually acceptable way forward.
The mediation conversation is confidential, allowing both parties to be honest, without fearing that what they say will be used against them in the future.
The mediator is in control of the process, and is there to facilitate conversation, ensure both parties can be heard, and that it is a safe space. The mediator is not there to make a judgement on who is right or wrong, and doesn’t decide the outcome – that is defined and agreed by those involved, with the mediator there to help reach this point.
Taking part in mediation is always voluntary, and it doesn’t prevent either side from lodging a grievance or an employment tribunal claim if they feel the mediation hasn’t been successful. However this usually isn’t needed. Figures from the Civil Mediation Council show that over 90% of mediations come to a successful conclusion.
We have always been pleased to be able to offer our clients Mediation services, and to see first hand the benefits it can bring:
- individuals able to share honestly and openly, perhaps for the first time, about their feelings, the pressure they are under, and the impact the situation is having on them;
- new understandings of each other’s perspective and where misunderstandings have got in the way.
- the enormous relief both parties feel at being heard and acknowledged, and having a way forward
- the reward of seeing people able to go away with the burden of stress lifted from their shoulders, saying they will be able to sleep at last!
To ensure we continue to offer the best possible services, Liz last month further developed her Mediation skills and experience by completing an in-depth mediation training programme, as accredited by the national Civil Mediation Council. If you would like to know more about how we could help you in this way, please get in touch.