‘When should I use mediation at work?’

Mediation is growing in popularity in the workplace as an approach to resolving conflict.

Penny Bromley is a senior negotiating officer at the CSP

If you are involved in a significant dispute at work it is possible you will be asked to consider mediation. It is often presented as an alternative to, or as part of the outcome of a formal grievance. In this context it is important to know what mediation offers and what to consider when deciding if it will help you to resolve your problem.

Successful mediation assists participants to find a way through conflict to reach acceptable resolutions that allow both parties to work effectively together without escalating hostility or conflict. It is never about assigning blame or deciding who is right or wrong in a situation, nor should it force a participant into a situation they do not accept or agree with. 

For mediation to work it is essential that it is impartial, voluntary, collaborative and undertaken in good faith. Most importantly participants must trust the process to be completely confidential. Anything said in discussions during mediation are confidential and cannot be used in other contexts unless they are already known.   

As part of the process each person meets alone with the mediator to present their perspectives. A good mediator will make clear to both parties that they will not agree with everything that is said during the process and will establish expected behaviour. 

Once this has happened joint meetings supported by the mediator begin.   

Mediation is not suitable for solving all conflicts in the workplace.  It should not be used to solve a relatively minor dispute between two colleagues nor should it be used when an issue is raised that requires formal investigation such as discrimination, sexual harassment or where an employees health is directly at risk. Nor is it suitable when one party is not committed to the mediation. 

  • Penny Bromley is a senior negotiating officer at the CSP

If you have a problem at work contact your local steward in the first instance, alternatively contact the Enquiries Team at enquiries@csp.org.uk

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