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How to introduce mediation into your workplace

How to introduce mediation into your workplace

If you’re an employer looking to introduce mediation in your workplace, you should think about what you want to achieve from using mediation. For example, it could be to:

  • reduce grievances and conflict;
  • improve workplace culture.

There are two ways you can introduce mediation in your workplace; you can use an external mediator who comes into your workplace when needed or set up your own internal mediation scheme, training employees to act as mediators.

The option you choose should be suitable for your needs; a larger organisation might invest in its own mediation scheme whilst a smaller organisation might feel using an external mediator, when necessary, is more cost-effective as it can be expensive to set up an internal scheme.

Using an external mediator

If you decide to use an external mediator it’s a good idea for a person or team to be responsible for overseeing the mediation arrangements; the cost of mediation will also need to be included in the organisation’s budget.

For smaller organisations, using an external mediator might be a good option as it can be difficult to make sure that employees in a smaller organisation are:

  • impartial (the parties involved should not know the mediator);
  • available for mediation (employees will need time off for mediations).

Using an external mediator means that you can decide when this is necessary, without taking up too much of your employees’ time.

For larger organisations, an external mediator can still be used even if they have invested in their own internal mediation scheme – for example, it might be appropriate to use an external mediator when:

  • the internal mediator has a conflict of interest;
  • an internal mediator is not available quickly enough;
  • those involved in potential mediation are senior managers;
  • the issue involves a very sensitive situation.

If you use an external mediator who comes to your workplace you need to be sure that the mediator will not take sides and will seek to find a solution that’s workable for everyone.

Introducing an internal mediation scheme 

For organisations looking to start their own internal mediation schemes, they can start by first introducing a pilot a scheme to see if what works best. If this successful there is the option for expansion.

Internal mediators are selected from the organisation’s existing employees. When selecting employees to act as mediators, it is a good idea to ask for volunteers, or to have managers nominate employees they believe would be suitable

If looking for volunteers it’s a good idea to set minimum standards which they should meet, such as having an understanding of conflict management. This will help to make sure that only those who meet certain criteria apply, and ensure that there is not an overwhelming number of applications. Organisations should select a diverse range of employees to act as mediators. This will help to:

  • match mediators to parties more easily;
  • make sure that mediators are impartial.

If employees are asked to act as mediators employers should:

  • make sure mediation responsibilities are included in job descriptions;
  • give employees time off for mediations.

Employees who act as mediators need to be properly trained in mediation techniques. They also need to understand their role and how it fits in with their organisation’s policies and procedures.

Mediation should be introduced as part of an organisation’s overall approach to people management. There are many ways mediation can be included in policies and procedures. For example, it could be:

  • written into employment contracts;
  • written into the bullying and harassment policy;
  • included as part of the grievance or dispute resolution procedure.

Once an organisation has made external or internal mediation arrangements, they can then think about how to launch and promote mediation in the workplace. If choosing to use external mediators it’s important that mediation is promoted across the organisation so that people are aware of it, and confident in it

Mediation should be promoted as an option to resolve a workplace disagreement that’s:

  • flexible;
  • confidential;
  • less formal;
  • voluntary.

Read the complete article here.

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