What should managers do when conflict starts to affect the whole workplace?

Is mediation the answer to workplace disputes?

Conflicts or disagreements within the workplace are common, and often unavoidable. As a result, it is something employers need to have a strategy to come to a resolution without letting the conflict or disagreement develop and impact on the wider workforce and business as a whole. 

There are various ways of resolving workplace issues, although mediation is often considered one of the fairest and most proactive. Mediation refers to the process of resolving conflicts between, in this case, employees or other parties in the workplace. In mediation, there is generally a neutral third party, or mediator, who assists both parties work toward a resolution. 

Benefits of Using Mediation

Mediation encourages open communication between all parties involved in a disagreement or conflict, whether it is between two employees, or the wider workforce. Mediation is a popular tool among employers as it allows grievances to be aired in an open forum, with everyone working towards a mutually beneficial solution. There are several benefits of using mediation in the workplace, which we cover below. 

Increasing Productivity

By resolving conflicts in a timely manner, mediation helps to reduce the amount of time employees spend on arguing and fighting, allowing them to focus on their work and improve productivity.

Improved Communication

Mediation provides a safe and structured environment for employees to voice their concerns and work towards finding a resolution. This leads to better communication and improved relationships between employees, which in turn leads to a more harmonious and positive work environment.


Mediation is often more cost-effective than traditional dispute resolution methods such as lawsuits or arbitration. This is because it is usually quicker and less formal than these other methods, which reduces the time and costs associated with resolving disputes.

When is mediation not appropriate?

Mediation, whilst being a great tool for many situations, can not be deployed in any scenario. Mediation could be inappropriate if:

  • There is an imbalance of power between the parties, e.g. a business owner and employee;
  • The dispute involves potential legal issues such as harassment or discrimination;
  • One of the parties is unwilling or unable to participate in good faith;
  • The situation involves an ongoing pattern of misconduct and one party has refused to change their behaviour; or
  • There is a lack of trust between the parties, making it unlikely that a mutually acceptable resolution can be reached. 

It is important to consider the specific circumstances and seek guidance from HR or legal counsel to determine if mediation is appropriate.

If you are considering utilising mediation in a dispute or disagreement in your workplace and need help ER Strategies is happy to assist, just give us a call on 1300 55 66 37, or just click here to contact us.

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