For nearly 10 years now, Consensio has supported organisations to embed workplace mediation so that the pattern of over-reliance on formal process is broken and a more collaborative and less punitive method of resolving difficult workplace relationships is used instead.
Workplace mediation is on the rise
We have noticed a significant increase in organisations using workplace mediation. We get many more mediation enquiries and actual cases going to mediation than we have ever before. This is good news. However, it doesn’t mean that enough organisations are using mediation and other forms of informal conflict resolution processes. On the contrary – the majority of organisations still rely on formal process to “manage” and “resolve” workplace conflict. Most HR professionals would agree that cases that go to a grievance, can leave individuals feeling that the issues are not “resolved”.
Lessons learned from organisations that promote mediation
There is a lot we can learn from organisations who are using workplace mediation, either by commissioning external, professional mediators, or who have their own internal mediators. And often they are using mediation because their HR professionals understand the many benefits of doing so.
- Educate the workforce on the benefits of mediation
For example, their HR professionals know about mediation and understand the benefits of using this approach as an alternative to formal process. This means that they know how to talk about mediation to parties in conflict and how to encourage them, without forcing them, to attend mediation, and have that courageous conversation.
- Recognise the difference between mediation & HR
In addition, these HR professionals are aware that what they do in their day-to-day roles – which is to advise and give solutions – is very different to what a mediator does. They don’t confuse the roles and don’t try to “mediate” when what they are doing as HR professionals is very different.
- Create a safe space for people to talk
Furthermore, these HR professionals understand that conflict between individuals is best managed by allowing the parties to speak to each other in a confidential and safe environment, where parties’ different perceptions of the same situation are explored rather than presented as facts, and where a collaborative way forward is encouraged.
As we have said before, this isn’t to say that formal process doesn’t have a place within the policies and procedures of an organisation. But the pattern of over-reliance on formal process needs to be broken. The focus needs to be on allowing parties to speak face-to-face, with an impartial mediator, about what has happened, how it has affected them, and how they want to move forward in a mutually acceptable manner. This is where the strength of mediation lies.