‘Mediation is a structured process whereby an impartial mediator facilitates communication between those in dispute in order for them to understand each other better and to come up with mutually acceptable solutions which will improve the working relationship in the future.’ The emphasis in this situation is that of win / win, problem solving where the solutions are offered by the disputants. The mediator will not judge. It is a confidential, safe and non-confrontational method of resolution, and it is of course far more cost effective than litigation.
- Conflict costs employers 350 days of management time every year
- 1.7 million employees report that they’ve been unfairly treated at work
- The average costs associated with employment tribunal claims amount to £90,000 per company per year.
- £172 million is spent by companies every year settling claims
‘Managing Conflict at work report’ – CIPD
Mediation has the potential to be particularly effective in the context of employment disputes… it is a pragmatic, flexible and informal way of providing both parties with positive outcomes.
‘Better dispute resolution report’ – DTI
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the cost of workplace conflict is an estimated annual £33bn to UK businesses. It is also a drain on precious time, taking up 20% of leadership time and resulting in 370 million lost days.
The effects of workplace disputes are more wide ranging than just that, these unresolved conflicts can also:
- undermine effectiveness and productivity
- increase sickness absence
- destabilise teams and create depressing workplaces with poor employee engagement
- drain goodwill
and so on.
Mediation is now being used to speedily and effectively resolve workplace disputes. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development have found that almost 60% of companies using mediation see a significant reduction in formal grievances overall and a reduction of employment tribunal claims by almost 50%.
ACAS have gone on to say that mediation has a positive effect in over 90% of cases.
Businesses such as the Arcadia Group and BT explained how workplace mediation has not only resolved their workplace issues but also saved them money. Arcadia reported that mediation had an 85% success rate and had halved costs for the company as the process took six and a half hours rather than the average nine days of administration and management time spent on a typical grievance issue. Similarly, BT have said that mediation resolved nearly 90% of workplace disputes that would have otherwise been progressed as a formal grievance. This resulted in a 34% reduction in grievance costs within the first four months. This would suggest that cost being the key reason as to why employers don’t use mediation is perhaps unfounded?