“Is a voluntary, confidential, without prejudice process whereby a mutually acceptable impartial mediator assists parties early in a conflict situation to re-establish working relationships.  It is an informal and flexible process where the mediator is responsible for the process and the parties are responsible for the outcome that is future focused.  When the process is completed, an agreement or statement of commitment or action plan is drawn up between the parties.”  (Conflict Dynamics definition).

Issues that are suitable for workplace mediation are:

  • Performance
  • Strained or deteriorating relationships
  • Diversity/culture/value differences that impact negatively on relationships
  • Incompatibility or personality clashes
  • Bullying and harassment
  • New working practices or work content disputes
  • Organisational change, eg. Mergers, acquisitions or restructuring
  • Disputes within teams and between teams

Disputes unsuitable for mediation:

  • If one of the parties was coerced into participating in mediation
  • If one party feels unsafe in the other's company
  • If mediation is not voluntary
  • If there is breach of criminal law or serious misconduct
  • If one of the parties are psychologically unable to participate
  • If ground rules for mediation are disregarded

Benefits of workplace mediation:

  • It takes place early in the life of the conflict, therefore less potential damage to brand and other costs like litigation costs, time costs and costs to reputation
  • High settlement rate
  • Prevents escalation of disputes and promotes earlier settlement
  • It is a staged and flexible process
  • Aims to resolve conflict and restore working relationships
  • Positive and forward looking
  • Restorative – it allows people to state their views in a safe environment
  • If the parties come to an agreement they are more likely to adhere to the terms of the agreement
  • Litigation is in the public domain
  • Without prejudice and if no agreement is reached the parties can revert to their positions before the mediation

How it works:

  • Referral for mediation is done via email or telephonically.  The referrer contacts the mediator.  The mediator will contact the parties to discuss the matter briefly, discuss the agreement to mediate and to clarify any questions and arrangements to meet
  • Individual meetings are held between the mediator and the parties.  These usually last an hour and may be done back to back on the same day  
  • A joint meeting is held between the mediator and the parties to the dispute.  Mediation is a confidential and informal process, so neither party should bring along a third party representative.  If one party wishes to bring someone to the meeting to act in a supportive role, this should be cleared with the other party to the dispute, who may then elect to also bring someone along.  The person acting in a supportive role should not actively take part in the mediation meeting and should agree to be bound by the confidentiality rules that govern mediation.  Both parties are given an opportunity to express their concerns and issues in brief opening statements, issues are identified, potential options are explored, solutions are discussed, agreement is reached on the way forward and agreement is reached regarding report back to the referrer
  • Follow up is done after 6 weeks to determine whether the action plan held, what changes are necessary and what further support is necessary to support the parties going forward