The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, promotes the use of mediation to resolve conflict in the workplace rather than moving straight into disciplinary or grievance procedures.
Conflict is an inevitable part of workplace dynamics even in the best of workplaces. Disputes between employees in the workplace can be highly disruptive and may even harm a business’ public image especially if they lead to an Employment Tribunal. There is a view that mediating before both sides become entrenched in their views through a disciplinary or grievance situation can help to diffuse an issue and resolve a situation more swiftly and to all parties' satisfaction.
Using Mediation in the workplace as an alternative to instigating formal action allows you to:
Avoid damage to the company's image
Reduce costs associated with Employment Tribunal claims
Produce solutions in a shorter timescale than formal disciplinary or grievance procedures
Help restore working relations rather than destroy them
Minimise the need to involve other employees as “witnesses” in a disciplinary or grievance hearing
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary but structured process, during which an impartial mediator (usually from outside of the organisation) facilitates communication between those in dispute in order for them to come up with mutually agreed solutions on how to improve their working relationship in the future. This can be done in a variety of ways, including agreeing to work differently, amend communication styles, change reporting lines and so on.
The positive effects of mediation can be to:
Address conflict quickly and effectively
Improve employee morale and teamwork
Achieve higher performance, productivity and profits
Retain valuable employees
Reduce and eliminate the stress involved in using more formal processes and
Reduce sickness absence
Why is it used and when?
Mediated agreements tend to succeed because the process of mediation allows the opportunity to air views in a confidential setting with no fear of recrimination. This diffuses situations and sets the scene for being able to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation is most effective where both parties are willing to participate in discussions aimed at resolving the dispute.
A mediator seeks to provide an informal, speedy solution to workplace conflict and can be used at any stage in the conflict.
Mediation is recognised as a crucial and cost-effective tool in resolving some of the most common and difficult conflicts occurring in the workplace, including:
Discrimination and Bias
Harassment and Bullying
Termination of Employment
Discipline & Grievance
Transition and Change Management
Cultural Diversity Issues
In the workplace, Mediation affords both the employer and the employee the choice to try something that has a high chance of having a positive outcome before both sides become entrenched in complex and time consuming formal action around disciplinary and grievance.