Workplace mediation allows organizations to resolve disputes at the earliest stage possible, preventing costly formal proceedings, reduced productivity and an unhealthy working environment. Mediation further allows employers to demonstrate their commitment towards the contentment and well-being of the workforce. Organizations looking to develop in-house mediation capacities may seek to benefit from the vast experience on offer by the team at Phoenix Dispute Solutions, in order to ensure a smooth development process.
Structure and Guidelines
The presence of clear guidelines within the organizational structure as to when and how parties will be engaged in a mediation is vital. Often, a lack of good procedures enabling early recourse to mediation reduces the use and effectiveness of the process. Managers and employees alike must have knowledge of these procedures as well the need to adhere to them. Further, in order to ensure successful mediations, mediators must be competent to perform their roles. Organizations looking to build an in-house mediation capacity should look to provide employees with accredited mediation training and subsequently increase the frequency of in-house mediations, enabling them to achieve a degree of competence.
Organizations must also be aware that employees from diverse backgrounds should be encouraged to undertake mediation training. As impartiality is fundamental to the process of mediation, difficulties are often caused by the majority of in-house mediators having a HR background, who may have already been involved in the conflict in its early stages. A lack of perceived impartiality goes towards eroding the trust and confidence in the mediation process, making it difficult to reach a resolution. Where relationships are already strained, a compromised mediation process may cause further irreparable damage to the situation.
Organizations would therefore be better able to incorporate a credible mediation process within their structures by widening the ambit of their training. Whilst HR employees may be suitable mediators where the dispute is in its infancy, more serious and long-standing matters may necessitate the involvement of a mediator from a different department without a perceived bias. Even so, such a mediator may still be tainted by the perception of an organizational bias, especially in sensitive matters involving the larger interests of the organization. Therefore, organizations may on occasion need to recruit external mediators to ensure that along with an in-house mediation capacity, their ability to effectively and efficiently resolve disputes is supplemented by external arrangements.
Creating a Mediation Culture
Cultural barriers to mediation as a form of dispute resolution also impede its effective implementation within an organization. Often, a lack of knowledge about what the mediation process entails and its demonstrated effectiveness can lead to an ambivalent attitude amongst managers, who therefore avoid mediation in the event of a dispute. This hampers the ability of an organization to achieve its goal of normalizing mediation and benefiting from early dispute resolution.
As well as managerial lack of knowledge, employees who lack awareness of mediation may also be unwilling to participate in a procedure that they do not believe to be effective. On other occasions, participants may be wary of the confidentiality of the process and that any subsequent agreement may be held against them. These cultural barriers to mediation significantly reduce the number of mediations held and outcomes achieved. Disputes that can be resolved are allowed to ferment, damaging relationships, expending time and depleting resources. Organizations seeking to utilize the benefits of early workplace mediations may therefore find it beneficial to promote the message of mediation throughout the organization with an initial focus on senior and line management and subsequently the entire workforce.
If done correctly, the development of an in-house mediation capacity can enable organizations to avoid enormous costs as a result of workplace disputes. To find out more about how our expertise can enable your organization to achieve this, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.