Workplace mediation is a structured process in which an impartial mediator facilitates communication between disputants in order to clarify their issues and come up with agreements on how to improve their working relationships for the future. Many companies and organizations today use mediation to address workplace conflicts because it helps avoid damage to their public image and greatly reduces costs associated with litigation. In addition to the financial investment for formal procedures and investigations, some cases can be so adversarial and stressful for all involved that people working together again is all but impossible. More than 85% of people leave their jobs because of perceived internal conflict.
Workplace mediation's high success rate and low costs make it the most favored dispute resolution method for workplace conflicts such as bullying, harassment, discrimination and bias, sexual harassment, discipline problems, termination of employment, work performance, compensation and cultural diversity issues. My background as an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) Counselor with the National Park Service also brings to the mediation table my 10 years of experience in dealing with discrimination cases.
Workplace mediation has many benefits, especially when a dispute is mediated shortly after it arises. Chances for resolution are greater then because the parties' differences have not had a chance to fester, the situation is generally more fluid and the parties have more options available to them. Mediation also fosters mutual respect through improved communication and can heal damaged working relationships, even when the parties are extremely angry. Other benefits include:
1. Ability to set up a mediation session quickly. Most parties involved in a dispute want to see it resolved as soon as possible.
2. Less costly in all ways: One "mediation day" is a fraction of the cost of an investigation or litigation. Also, the speed with which a mediated agreement can occur reduces the amount of time spent involved with investigations and litgations. Unresolved conflicts also affect the overall productivity of the entire workplace environment.
3. Mediation is more positive and more likely to give those involved the outcomes they desire which in turn increases compliance with the agreements reached since they had a voice in those agreements.
4. Mediation is more constructive in that it helps restore working relationships rather than destroying them.
Mediation of workplace disputes achieves the most satisfactory, timely and cost effective resolution of disputes. When offered to employees in your company or organization, mediation can have the affect of helping to create a more collaborative and cooperative workplace culture. Conflict can then be seen as an oportunity for growth and understanding rather than a crisis.