If everyone was the same, the office would be a dull place indeed. It’s almost a given that there will be some level of healthy disagreement and conflict in any dynamic workplace, but it’s when these conflicts become disruptive – or impact on the welfare or productivity or employees – that further action is required. In some of these cases, workplace mediation can be an ideal next step.
What is workplace mediation?
Workplace mediation is a voluntary, confidential method that can help two or more participants come to a mutually acceptable resolution where there is conflict. A neutral third party guides the process, encouraging open and frank discussion about the matters and encouraging all participants to reach a solution together. A sound workplace mediation process is balanced, impartial and most importantly confidential. An outcome from a mediation is not binding on the participants.
Workplace mediation can be beneficial because:
- It gives both participants a chance to explain their thoughts and positions
- It allows each participant to hear (and ideally understand) the other person’s perspective
- It encourages both participants to find a future-focused solution and a framework for how to move forward
- It can provide a neutral and safe space for this process to happen
- It can lead to resolution before issues have the chance to become much larger
- It’s confidential and can be a relatively efficient process.
Where can workplace mediation provide value?
A workplace mediation is often an ideal next step if the conflict is moderate; if both participants are willing and able to participate in the process; and if the issue at hand can be clearly defined and discussed. It’s important that both participants agree to keep the matter confidential. Workplace mediation is also more likely to provide value when either your organisation or your outsourced HR solution in Melbourne can provide the framework and support for a successful process.
Some examples where workplace mediation might help include a breakdown in a working relationship, interpersonal disputes, conflict between managers and staff, or conflict arising from discrimination.
When is workplace mediation not the answer?
It will not be the best next step where:
- There have been allegations made of a serious nature, such as abuse or sexual assault
- If participants hold real animosity for one another and are unlikely to be able to converse civilly
- If there’s a distinct power imbalance that might influence the outcome of mediation
- If the issue relates to a wider organisational or departmental issue, which may be better addressed through a workplace review.
Who should conduct mediation?
It’s incredibly important that the mediator in any workplace mediation is independent and free of bias towards either participant. Mediation isn’t a simple skill; it requires patience, excellent communication skills and a capable understanding of the mediation process. De-escalation strategies are also put into use at times, to refocus conversation where it needs to go productively and to clear the air.
Should the time ever come that you believe a workplace mediation may be of benefit, your HR service provider in Melbourne at PerformHR can provide the experience required to undertake your workplace mediation.