Mediation, dispute resolution and Covid: Focusing on solutions not blame

Yet again we are back to working from home, missing festive events, worrying about whether we will be covid free for Christmas. Many will have little money, uncertain jobs, health issues (including mental health).   There are huge uncertainties both in and out of work.   What can we do to help each other through these grim times?

There is the obvious: kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, understanding the other person.  But, what if there is conflict at work or you are embroiled in a Tribunal case?  You may be anxious and stressed, wanting it to be resolved but not knowing how.  If so, read on.  

                                                        Top tips for resolution

  • Concerns at work are often about poor communication and misunderstandings: don’t make assumptions before you know the facts;
  • Focus on solutions – avoiding blame;
  • Be willing to apologise – it goes a long way and need not be an admission of ‘guilt’;
  • Avoid a grievance; they generally do more harm than good by entrenching the conflict;
  • Grasp the nettle early. If you are worried (as employer or employee) have a chat and discuss your ‘concerns’ and how they may be resolved;
  • Avoid threats if possible; they will escalate matters;
  • Threatening or entering into litigation is the very last resort;
  • If a constructive conversation does not work think Mediation

What is mediation

  • An impartial mediator will help the parties resolve conflict;
  • The mediator will move (between rooms) to find out each person’s concerns and their desired outcome. This can take time to find a way forward acceptable to all;
  • The parties to the dispute can decide whether they want to meet. It is usually best if they do particularly if the aim is to improve the working relationship.

The advantages of mediation

  • It is not about blame but solutions; it is kinder;
  • It is much more likely to resolve concerns than a grievance;
  • It is quick and easy to arrange online; you don’t need to travel;
  • Mediation may save your job if that’s what you want;
  • It saves everyone’s time and anxiety; costs of work conflict are very high;
  • If you are in the middle of a tribunal case, you may be offered free mediation with an Employment Judge who is a mediator; consider it carefully;
  • Most mediations are successful, resulting in agreement;
  • There is little to lose and a lot to gain: try it and see.

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