How do you deal with conflict in your workplace? What do you do when employees fall out and can no longer work together?
Workplace conflict, if not dealt with effectively, can quickly escalate to more serious problems, such as stress-related absenteeism, grievances and even tribunal claims. Endeavouring to resolve workplace conflict via formal procedures can be time consuming, costly and will often fail to resolve matters to the satisfaction of all parties.
So what alternative do you have as an employer?
Mediation is a confidential and impartial tool that can provide a way forward outside of formal proceedings. It is an entirely voluntary process in that it will only be entered into if all parties are amenable, and it can be applied to a variety of situations where relationships have become difficult, strained, or appear to have broken down completely.
The mediator will meet with each party separately at the outset, questioning them in order to establish their respective positions and desired outcomes. A joint meeting will then be convened at a neutral venue involving an authoritative Company representative. At this meeting, the mediator will facilitate discussion of the issues and the respective positions of the parties with a view to building a workable agreement between them. At all times, the mediator’s focus will be to find a mutually acceptable and amicable way of moving forward. A successful process will conclude with the mediator producing a written agreement and providing copies to each of the parties concerned. Anything discussed during the mediation process will be treated in confidence and without risk that it will be used against either party at a later date.
One of the most effective uses of mediation is as an informal means by which to resolve a grievance that may otherwise need addressing on a formal footing. If agreement is reached between the parties via mediation then there is an expectation that the terms of that agreement will be honoured. However, if the issue is not resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, he / she is still able to progress the matter as a formal grievance thereafter.
Some employers choose to conduct mediation internally, e.g. via fellow employees trained to act in this capacity. Whilst we can deliver training to groups of employees who express an interest in becoming internal mediators, consideration should be given to whether a co-worker will ever really be perceived as independent. In many situations, the appointment of an external mediator will be more appropriate.
At EML, we appreciate the difficulty that employers face when they encounter workplace conflict and offer a professional mediation service delivered by an accredited consultant to facilitate conflict resolution that is agreed upon and benefits all. If you are an employer faced with a pending conflict situation, or if you are simply being pro-active in making arrangements for conflict resolution in general, please contact us in confidence and without obligation for an initial discussion.