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Following my article from last week ‘Dealing with workplace conflict – recognising the three levels of conflict’, this week is about workplace mediation; an area of conflict resolution that I have a great passion for.

Time and time again I hear employers say: “We called you in as the last resource. We are embarrassed that we haven’t been able to solve this internally.” I hope that we can change this perception in the near future – from mediation being sought as a ‘last resort’ to being one of the first resources that employers call on. Imagine the time, money and emotional stress we could avoid, by solving conflict within a couple of weeks instead of six months?

Please don’t hesitate to contact me, if you would like more information about Workplace Mediation.

When most people think of mediation and dispute resolution an image of tense negotiations and frayed tempers springs to mind.

Thankfully, workplace mediation has come a long way from sitting in separate rooms, with frustration and anger rising.

Today, with the assistance of a skilled, professional and accredited mediator, mediation is more hands-on, and provides long-lasting, beneficial outcomes for both employers and employees.

What is workplace mediation?

Workplace mediation is a confidential and informal structured negotiation process where an independent person (the mediator), facilitates communication between disputing parties. The ultimate goal is to leave all parties better able to work together in a productive, supportive environment.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation is helpful in most circumstances. From minor disputes and conflicts, right through to more serious issues such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

Mediation is a fast, structured process that is best initiated shortly after a conflict arises. By engaging an independent, external facilitator, all parties feel they are being heard, understood, and will be engaged in working towards a mutually beneficial resolution. Organisations who engage external mediators also report a significant reduction in litigation costs.

What is the mediation process?

Initially, the mediator will be brought up to speed with the issue, history of the conflict and the involved parties. The mediator will then discuss expectations and outcomes with the employer so to clarify everyone is on the same page working towards the desired resolution.

In preparation for the mediation session, the mediator will speak to each party individually to understand all points of view.

Next the mediator will bring all parties together for a ‘round-table’ discussion. Here within a constructive, communicative environment, all parties can work towards an amicable and mutually acceptable resolution. A qualified and skilled mediator will assist and guide the parties to achieve a resolution that makes each party feel understood and comfortable with the outcome. More often than not, mediation is a positive experience that leaves everyone feeling confident in moving forward within the workplace.

What can an employer expect?

As an employer, your main objective is always a productive and effective conflict-free workplace. Employers are encouraged to tackle issues as soon as they arise, as studies show the sooner issues are addressed, the more likely a positive and long-term resolution will be reached.

When engaging an independent mediator, you should expect a professional and constructive, structured process which usually takes between 4-8 hours. The process should leave all parties involved feeling safe and understood.

Workplace mediation and dispute resolution opens the channels of communication, and allows all parties involved to reach an effective and positive outcome. The results are a more cohesive, productive and enjoyable workplace for employers, management, and staff.

 

Michella Francis is the founder and managing director of Venus Consulting. With extensive experience in conflict resolution, Michella’s expertise is helping employers create a harmonious and productive workplace environment.

Her qualifications in neuroscience and PRISM Brain Mapping (behavioural preferences assessments) have seen her develop a range of unique programs including the new ‘Workplace Prosperity Program’.

Michella is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator specialising in Workplace Mediation as well as Family Law Mediation.

If you would like to know how you can maximise productivity, inspire innovation and collaboration in a drama-free working environment, please contact Michella on mfrancis@venusconsulting.com.au.