Workplace and employment mediation is a means of really hearing both sides in a dispute, and using independent listening skills to restore mutual trust. Without trust there is only blame and grievance, two qualities that can spread in an organisation. Mediation seeks resolution through agreement, understanding and acceptance of differences, avoids tribunals, litigation and loss, and can strengthen people’s ability to work together. The basis is one of no blame, and no taking sides in the arguments.
Mediation isn’t an easy way out, because it faces the differences that people express and works through them, not round them.
Third party mediation feels less formal, and takes pressure off individuals. It separates the discussions from ‘official’ organisational intervention. There is no power game, because the space for dialogue is entirely neutral, guided by an independent party with no bias, and where the decisions and outcomes belong to the parties involved.
It could be that those in dispute feel there are things they cannot say to the HR team, for reasons of confidentiality, or fear of future repercussions.
The bottom line of mediation is a written and signed agreement to a common-sense resolution to which all parties can commit.
It is very important that all parties understand that the process is not only entirely voluntary, it is also confidential and ‘off the record’. Nothing that is said or written may be disclosed by any participant, should the process fail and subsequently come to a court of law or tribunal. When we say that workplace and employment mediation is ‘without prejudice’ we are stating this confidentiality in legal terms. Participation does not alter your employment rights in any way.