Disputes are inevitable in any workplace setting. When everyone is trying to achieve both their personal and organizational goals, there are bound to be disagreements and tension. Whether disputes are over the tasks to be done, harassment, or unfair treatment, this can quickly damage the relationship between employees, making it impossible to work together.
When parties cannot communicate and consider what others’ concerns and interests are, conflicts can arise. This is because most people tend to focus their attention on who is right and who is wrong. In such cases, parties must find options for resolving their disputes for a better working environment.
One of the options worth considering is mediation. Workplace mediation can help address differences between co-workers or with their employers and be able to work together. Let us explore the mediator’s role in resolving employment disputes and why mediation is worth considering.
Providing a Safe and Supportive Space
A mediator, an unbiased or neutral third party, provides a safe space for the parties to work through their differences. All parties involved in the dispute are made to feel comfortable expressing their concerns openly in a non-threatening environment. The mediator ensures that the parties feel secure by remaining respectful and sensitive to their emotions, greatly enhancing the chances of reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
Facilitating Open and Honest Communication
The mediator facilitates communication between the conflicting parties to help them work toward an optimal resolution. They ensure all parties are actively involved in the mediation process to find a way to address the issues and continue working together efficiently.
Guiding the Parties
At the beginning of the session, the mediator sets the ground rules and guidelines for communication and behavior during the process. This usually ensures that the parties communicate respectfully, avoid interruptions and express their concerns effectively. Additionally, they help the parties remain focused on the crucial issues and avoid blame or one party imposing a solution.
Identifying Key Issues
Another role of the mediator in employment disputes is identifying the issues contributing to the conflicts. Mediators are experts trained to decipher what the issues and underlying interests are. They may ask questions specifically made to identify the underlying interest of the conflicting parties. When interests are identified, parties can find solutions that meet such needs and desires.
Once the issues and underlying interests are clarified, the mediator helps brainstorm potential solutions. Unlike in traditional litigation, where a decision is imposed, the mediator encourages the parties involved to explore creative solutions to their issues. This could include changing practices or policies, increased insurance benefits, or other solutions based on their unique situation. Mediation’s collaborative and flexible nature helps arrive at mutually beneficial agreements.
Drafting an Agreement
If the parties can reach an agreement, the mediator helps draft a formal written agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the resolution. Both parties then sign this agreement, making it a legally binding contract. On the other hand, if an agreement is not reached, the mediator summarizes the progress made during the process. This can be helpful to both parties as it shows what the issues are and paves the way for future negotiations or other dispute-resolution methods.
Why Opt for Mediation in Employment Disputes?
Seeking the help of a mediator can be very beneficial to both employees and employers. Mediation can be a great option in resolving employment-related disputes for reasons including the following:
- Confidentiality– Discussions during mediation are not exposed to the public. This ensures that sensitive information and personal matters remain private.
- Cost-effectiveness – Mediation is generally more cost-effective than going to court.
- Expeditious process – In mediation, matters can be resolved within days or weeks, unlike in litigation, where court battles can go on for months or even years.
- Preserving and improving working relationships – Mediation provides a collaborative space where employees and employers can find a resolution that preserves their working relationship.
- More control over the outcome – Both parties actively participate in finding a solution that’s best for them, unlike in court, where the jury or judge makes the final ruling. Self-created resolutions are known to be more sustainable than authoritatively imposed decisions.
- Preserving the reputation of employers – Mediation can help employers to prevent the risk of negative publicity or damage to their brand since the details of the dispute remain confidential
The Skilled San Diego County Mediator Can Help
Mediation can be beneficial for organizations with disputes in the workplace. It is a confidential, cost-effective, and expeditious way of resolving employment disputes. If you would like to know how our mediation services can benefit your company, contact our skilled San Diego County employment mediator at Blue Sky Mediation Center or online to schedule a free consultation today at 760.454.7277.