BlogWorkplace Mediation

Impartial Mediation: Why is it important in the Workplace?

By 9th June 2024 No Comments

Is Workplace Mediation Impartial and Confidential?

The role of a mediator in a workplace dispute is to facilitate a confidential and impartial discussion between two or more individuals with a view to resolving conflict.

There are four key principles to any mediation:

  • It is must be a voluntary process, parties cannot be forced to attend.
  • The mediator must be impartial, and have no vested interest in the overall outcome.
  • The process is confidential.
  • The outcomes are determined by the parties and not by the mediator.

In the event one of these elements does not exist, then it is not considered to be a mediation.

Why is an Impartial Mediator in the workplace important?

In lots of work place disputes we hear of HR departments having ‘mediated’ the parties themselves. Whilst, understandably, organisations might see this as a more cost effective means of resolving disputes, using an inhouse team without incurring additional expense – but it is this mediation?  No.

The HR department’s responsibility first and foremost is to the organisation which employs it.  They must act for the greater good of the company and will undoubtedly, therefore have an ulterior motive, which may affect their impartiality.  Perhaps they are looking to demote a member of staff or make cut backs and may manipulate the ‘mediation’ process to achieve this.

A true workplace mediation process will involve an external mediator being brought in to assist the parties in conflict. The mediator will be completely impartial with no vested interest in the outcome, beyond that of wanting parties to reach a resolution.

How do Mediators ensure confidentiality in the workplace?

An independent , external mediator will ensure discussions in the mediation process remain confidential.  This allows parties to the mediation to share thoughts and concerns with the mediator, which they might not otherwise want to share with their employer.  Being able to have understanding of all the issues facing an individual both at work and at home, enables the mediator to help them explore options, leading to solutions.

At the conclusion of a workplace mediation, the external mediator will notify the employer of the outcome and the proposed plan to move forward. But there will be elements of the discussions, which the employer will never be privy to.  Could this same protection be afforded to an employee in mediation, if the mediation were being conducted by the internal HR department?  No.

Conclusion

Many HR departments and line managers believe they possess the skills to mediate, and whilst this may be true, without any formal training, the risk is they could actually make the situation worse, causing further damage to the employer/employee relationship.

We are all aware of the need to create a happy, healthy working environment to maintain productivity and high levels of staff retention. Should a dispute arise in the workplace, steps should be taken to resolve matters quickly and professionally.

For expert help with workplace disputes, please contact us on [email protected] or visit our Workplace Mediation page to learn more.