Mediation is an extremely good option to consider for workplace conflict and related issues. Workplace conflict can devastate a work environment, resulting in employee dissatisfaction and absenteeism, unhappy customers and decreased sales and income, or, for service organizations, ineffective provision of client services. While supervisors and HR are supposed to handle such situations, it is often more cost and outcome effective to bring in an unbiased trained neutral to evaluate and mediate the issues.
A mediator is a trained neutral. He or she has no vested interest in the outcome of a given dispute. Because of that, the mediator is able to look at a situation more objectively to help employers and employees identify what the underlying causes of the dispute are and to come up with creative solutions for dealing with those causes. A good mediator will spend a good deal of time investigating what the issues are and identifying all of the relevant issues and parties. Studies have shown that mediation can more quickly resolve workplace conflict, reduce levels of employee grievances and is far less expensive than other options.
What Kinds of Disputes in the Workplace Lend Themselves to Mediation
- Disputes between individual employees
- Disputes between groups of employees
- Disputes between supervisors and employees
- Disputes between employees and customers or clients
- Difficult employees
- Workplace bullying
- Disputes about work conditions
- Disputes related to personal problems
- Disputes involving matters which could ultimately lead to lawsuits (such as sexual harassment)
If you are getting the idea that just about any kind of workplace issue can be appropriate for mediation, you are right!
When to Retain a Mediator
Really, the sooner the better. The longer the dispute goes on, the more likely that one of the involved parties will decide to leave and/or seek costly legal redress. Early involvement by a mediator keeps parties from becoming too entrenched and escalating the conflict. When you get a mediator involved early in the process, all of the parties will be interviewed and feel like they are heard and valued. Valued employees are loyal hardworking employees.