Workplace mediation is best utilized in the workplace when it is supported by upper management which typically includes incorporating within an policy and procedures as an informal resolution process. Thereafter, educational opportunities are provided for employees to learn more about workplace mediation through the form of workshops facilitated by human resources with or without the actual mediator. Topics such as (1) how to access mediation, (2) how mediation works, (3) what circumstances warrant mediation are covered. A main goal of the workshops is essentially a time to get buy-in from employees. Both incorporation of mediation into policy in tandem with workshops work to ensure that mediation is a viable option for handling workplace disputes before they become formal grievances. Mediation works best when both parties agree to participate voluntarily. The content of the mediation is confidential but the mutually agreed upon solution(s) are not which are typically shared with human resources and managers.
Steps in deciding if workplace mediation is right for your organization
(1) Deciding as an organization on how useful mediation would be and how often it will be utilized is important. One way to determine how useful mediation can be in your organization is to look at the number of formal complaints submitted within the last 3 years. This is typically a good indicator of how useful mediation can be to your organization. If there has been an increase in complaints, high turnover, or conflict that seems to never fully reach a resolution, workplace mediation may work wonders for your organization. Based on your need for mediation, management may simply want to use on an as needed bases which may not require incorporating meditation into your policies or procedures but referring employees to mediation as conflicts arise in order to be proactive about encouraging conflict management skills.
(2) Learn more about the effects workplace can have on the culture of your organization. Mediation typically does not work well in top-down organizations because the mediator is often not seen as a neutral third party but as a ploy of upper management to impose their resolution. Mediation is about the parties establishing creative and mutually agreed upon resolutions that will improve their working relationship. Organizations that tend to shared power and control work best with workplace mediation because it allows employees to feel empowered and take responsibility for themselves, the conflict they have found themselves in and creating flexible and creative working solutions.
(3) It is a good idea for upper management to meet and discuss the utility of mediation within the organization. Mediation Of Workplace Tiffs Is The Way of The Future is a useful article that can be used to facilitate a discussion. Once a clear agreement can be made to pursue the incorporation or workplace mediation, scheduling time to meet with the mediator to decide on the best way to incorporate it into policies as well as how to inform and educate staff would be in order. This would also be an opportune time to discuss when mediation would not be appropriate such as when the situation clearly causes for disciplinary action.
(4) After mediation has been incorporated and staff has been educated, mediation can now be an option for employees when conflict arises. Employees can now have a safe place to work through interpersonal issues and improve their conflict management skills. When upper management supports mediation by incorporating, educating and advocating mediation, medaition thrives as well as conflict management skills throughout the organization.