Workplace Mediation – How can we use this more effectively?
Justine Mooney and I have been workplace mediators for a few years now and we receive a large number of enquiries for this service.
Many of these enquiries do not proceed or are not suitable for employment mediation because of the stage of the employer’s internal processes or the employee’s allegations or stance.
For those that do, the outcomes vary but in most cases, some progress is made towards resolution and participants feel better having had a neutral space to openly discuss their concerns guided by independent workplace mediators who are not employed by the instructing business and have no agenda.
Reflecting on our recent experiences Justine and I decided that one of the problems with escalating employment disputes is likely to be a result of the employment mediation process not being invoked by employers early enough.
The ACAS early conciliation service is great but as employers do you really want to get to a pre claim stage before matters are fully discussed or resolved.
There is a back log in the ET system and litigation is expensive and time consuming. In my solicitors hat I have never personally acted for a client who, even when successful, thought it was worth it or would go through the process again.
So where do we suggest you put your offering of mediation if you are minded to make a change to your processes?
We would place an employment mediation offering prior to any formal grievance process. This is because a grievance process often polarizes the parties often and puts them in almost an adversarial position.
The overriding objective for any employer must be to resolve matters quickly and effectively and not to escalate.
From a mediator’s perspective it is also more difficult to successfully mediate following a completed grievance process often because one of the parties feels let down or aggrieved with less inclination to move on.
We would be really interested to hear your views.