Conflicts at work are an inherent fact of the life of an organisation. Where two or more interdependent colleagues establish personal or professional disputes with each other, the secret and evident costs can have a detrimental effect on the profitability of their work, and hence on the organization.
Because of the various external and internal drivers behind them these disputes may be complex. Such common factors include:
vague job roles;
poor work environment;
lack of equal opportunities;
requirements and expectations;
harassment and bullying.
Even for the most secure organizations, the cost of disputes may be taxing. The longer it takes to resolve a dispute, the more effort is spent on handling it. This takes away the resources required to handle other corporate affairs directly. Furthermore, disputes that are permitted to escalate can inevitably lead to a point of no return, with the possibility of time-consuming formal proceedings such as lawsuits, employment tribunals and civil claims. Costs of absence from illness, the unavoidable loss of workers and the resulting recruiting costs as a result of destroying employee relationships beyond repair may also have a detrimental impact on the finances of the company.
In addition, the highest expense any company can start paying from the onset of a dispute until its resolution is in its productivity. This total cost quietly reduces an organisation’s efficiency, development and, of course, profits. The following factors lead to a lack of conflict-related productivity among employees:
-low morality and motivation.
-Lack of engagement.
-Poor quality of decision.
-Loss of confidence within the company and an “I don’t care” attitude.
Identifying conflicts at an early stage and getting the right processes in place to settle them as soon as possible is also in the best interests of organisations. Mediation is one of the most common forms of on – the-job dispute resolution. Mediation provides a secure environment where parties meet to settle their disputes through a neutral mediator. It has proven to be a highly effective dispute resolution tool, as it focuses on the key drivers behind a conflict, allowing workers to express themselves in a secure atmosphere. The voluntary existence of the process gives it additional legitimacy and invokes trust among employees. Some of the advantages of early workplace mediation are:
-Time savings, resources and conflict resolution costs.
-Successful mediation can repair relationships and help establish a workforce which is less stressful and efficient.
-Less likely to follow formal procedures.
-The use of an unbiased and impartial mediation service reflects the organisation’s dedication to a fair and effective resolution of the conflict.
-Improving workplace communication skills and self-awareness, allowing them to overcome disagreements quicker and more efficiently in the future.
-Fast to start and complete mediation Parties learn more efficient communication skills and problem-solving skills they can carry back to the job.
In essence, it is imperative that the modern commercial and non-commercial company develop a community in which conflicts are understood and resolved, rather than simply swept under the carpet. Mediation offers the means to that end, and is an investment in the workplace that can bring tremendous benefits to any organisation’s long-term stability and performance.