Mediation – like ‘the cloud’ it’s an unstoppable new way of doing things

It’s being ‘pushed’ hard by the government and seems to be growing in popularity anyway. So, why is this? Take a moment to think how your business or organisation could benefit from mediation in the workplace, from boardroom to shop floor.

What’s the problem with disciplinary, grievance and tribunal procedures etc?
It’s the time they take – ages to conclude and soaking up inordinate amounts of management time. They also create a high degree of anxiety or angst, cost a fair bit to defend, if needed, and degrade or destroy relationships along the way. Not exactly ideal, hence the attraction of mediation.

What are the attractions of mediation?

Procedural attraction.
As a flexible, confidential and consensual process, the parties are freed up to really have their say in a safe environment, devise and consider a range of settlement options, decide the outcome and even its enforceability. It’s also adaptable (without even breaking the rules!) and has an approx 90% success rate.

Cost attraction. The sheer speed of mediation (setup and delivery) enables the costs in resolving an issue to be “significantly lower” – March 2011 CIPD survey report.

People management attraction. Key people benefits include reducing the anxiety and stress from using formal procedures and maintaining or improving relationships. As part of a proactive people management culture, it can not only help to boost morale, creativity and productivity, but also reduce sickness absence, staff turnover, loss of key staff and lost management time dealing with ‘issues’.

Is mediation a panacea?
Sound HR and legal input will always be needed. Furthermore, in some circumstances, a ‘blended’ service is more powerful, dealing with conflict issues in a more holistic manner. This would involve, as appropriate, a mix of mediation, executive coaching and facilitation, together with psychological and organisational stress management techniques. This is especially useful for teams and boards, when culture-shifting, or when support is needed to bring about mind-set and behavioural changes to enable sustainable mediation settlement agreements.

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