Workplace mediation helps companies settle conflicts at the earliest possible point, avoiding lengthy court litigation, decreased efficiency and an unsafe working climate. Mediation also helps employers to show their contribution to job satisfaction and health. Organisations seeking to build in-house mediation capabilities can use this article for a smooth development process.
Structure and guidelines
It is important to provide specific rules within the organisational structure as to when and how a mediation should include the parties. Also, a lack of good protocols requiring early access to mediation limits process usage and effectiveness. Both supervisors and staff must be aware of these protocols as well as the need to stick to them. Additionally, mediators must be qualified to play their duties in order to ensure effective mediation. Organisations seeking to develop an in-house mediation capacity will aim to provide certified mediation training for staff, and thereby increase the frequency of in-house mediation, allowing them to achieve a degree of competence.
Organisations must also be mindful that mediation preparation will be facilitated for workers from a range of backgrounds. Because impartiality is central to the mediation process, problems are often created by the majority of in-house mediators with an HR experience, who may have been involved in the dispute at its early stages already. A lack of perceived impartiality continues to erode faith and trust in the mediation process, making it difficult to find a resolution. A broken mediation process can cause more irreparable damage to the situation where relationships are already strained.
Organisations would therefore be better able to integrate a effective mediation mechanism into their processes by broadening the reach of their preparation. Although HR employees may be acceptable mediators when the conflict is in its infancy, more severe and long-standing problems may necessitate a mediator from another department to be involved without any potential bias. Nevertheless, the impression of an organizational bias can often contaminate such a mediator, especially in sensitive matters concerning the organization’s broader interests. Organizations can therefore sometimes need to employ external mediators to ensure that their ability to effectively and efficiently settle conflicts is complemented by external arrangements along with an in-house mediation capacity.
Creating a Mediation Culture
As a method of conflict resolution, cultural obstacles to mediation often hinder its successful implementation within an organisation. Often, a lack of awareness about what the mediation process means and its proven efficacy can lead to an ambivalent attitude among managers, thereby avoiding mediation in case of a conflict. This hinders an organisation’s ability to achieve its aim of standardising mediation and benefiting from early settlement of conflicts.
As well as managerial lack of knowledge, workers lacking mediation expertise may often be reluctant to engage in a process they do not think is successful. Participants may be suspicious of the process’s confidentiality on certain occasions, and that any future compromise may be kept against them. These cultural obstacles to mediation significantly decrease the number of mediations being conducted and the outcomes obtained. Disputes that can be resolved are allowed to ferment, damaging relationships, expending time and depleting resources. Therefore, companies wishing to use the benefits of early workplace mediation can find it useful to promote the mediation message within the organization with an initial emphasis on senior and line management and then the entire workforce.
Developing an in-house mediation ability, if done correctly will allow organisations to prevent massive costs as a result of employee disputes.