Mediation, as a preferred method of resolving workplace conflict is an objective which all parties to a dispute should be striving to achieve. In today's highly regulated employment environment, it is not surprising that sometimes through no intended fault of the parties involved, breaches of regulation or internal disputes may occur. Such disputes if not dealt with swiftly and fairly, can lead to staff discontent.

As a result, there can be a disproportionate allocation of management time in what is a non-productive activity for the business. When such incidents are formalised then relationships between the parties can quickly deteriorate and significant legal costs may be incurred. In addition, the time required to work through the legal process can be considerable. In such circumstances, why not consider mediation as a real alternative?

Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, 'without prejudice' method of resolving workplace disputes. The mediator is specially trained to assist parties in settling disputes, being an impartial facilitator who helps the parties to arrive at a mutually agreed solution. Unlike arbitration or litigation, the mediator and the mediation process has no power to impose a settlement on the parties. Mediation can also be a powerful intervention in a variety of workplace disputes, not just where there has been a regulatory breach. It is now a recognised component of the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work.

Many disputes arise as a result of poor communication, lack of trust or a polarisation of views. Human nature will often cause a hardening of attitudes with a consequence that the dispute will escalate and arriving at a non-facilitated settlement will become more difficult. Informal mediation at an early stage may help to either resolve the dispute or position the parties for a formal mediation.

Mediation is being considered more and more as a real alternative both in the context of time and cost of pursuing disputes through a lengthy legal process. MacKenzieYoung offers mediation services through their Partners, who have been accredited by ADR Group, the largest provider of Dispute Resolution Services in the UK.

What is Mediation? If you would like further information on Mediation, the MacKenzieYoung factsheet can be downloaded from the news and articles section of the website