Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential form of
alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It
involves an independent, impartial person helping two or more individuals
or groups reach a solution that's acceptable to everyone. In 2009, a new ACAS code was published
encouraging the use of mediation for workplace conflict.
The mediator can
talk to both sides separately or together. Mediators do not make judgments or
determine outcomes - they ask questions that help to uncover underlying
problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify
the options for resolving their difference or dispute.
The overriding aim
of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain the employment relationship
wherever possible. It tries to avoid the
concept of winner and loser. Often in
disputes that are not mediated, the “winner” may not feel like they have won
due to the long time it often takes to get a result (with the anxiety of this);
the costs or management time which is expended (which can become frightening); and
the business or personal relationships which are often destroyed along the way.
Why is mediation such a good way of resolving disputes and
• It is private and confidential - not in public as with tribunals
• It is voluntary and consensual with a win : win outcome
• The mediator controls the process - flexible with no prescribed rules to
• The parties determine the outcome - they retain control
• Both legal and non-legal matters can be included - it is holistic, which is
• It focuses on interests and needs - future orientated rather than playing the
• Resolution can be quick - it is quick to set up and to undertake
• It can be stress-busting and even therapeutic -- partly due to quick set up
and non-adversarial nature and partly due to having a real forum to have your
• Modest costs in comparison to litigation
• Possibility of saving strained relationships, or even to restore them
• Good success rate -- 75-90% depending on the type of case
Find out more about the mediation services provided by theIPA.
Neutral interventions and facilitation
Making difficult decisions, with far reaching consequences
for employees and stakeholders, is increasing going to be a major part of
senior management’s role. Making the
best quality decisions is vital, and for this to happen, full and frank
dialogue is required. However, sometimes
this can be hard to achieve – there can be dominant voices that stifle free
debate, or contributors to the discussion feel cautious about expressing
dissent to the consensus view for fear of raising tensions.
Involving a neutral third party can help organisations make
better quality decisions, especially when the decisions are contentious.
Find out more about the services provided by the IPA