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

Is mediation the answer to workplace disputes?

It is common for colleagues to have disagreements from time to time.

There are various ways of resolving workplace issues, although mediation is often considered one of the fairest and most proactive. 

Benefits of Using Mediation

Mediation encourages open communication between all parties involved in the disagreement – the situation may be between just two individuals, or may extend into the wider workforce. 

This is a popular tool among employers as it allows grievances to be aired in an open forum, with everyone involved in coming up with a solution to the problems. 
In order for mediation to be successful, it must be carried out in a non-confrontational environment, otherwise those involved may not feel they are able to air their views. 

Using a neutral space to conduct the session – such as an unused meeting room – is another good way of putting people in a conciliatory place of mind. 

For mediation to be worthwhile, the conflict between employees needs to be identified as soon as possible – leaving it too late could mean the problems escalate out of control and mediation will no longer be effective. 
It is important to recognise that mediation is not a sure-fire way of coming to a conclusion – it might be that the process is ineffective, in which case employers will need to explore other means of addressing the workplace dispute. 

When is Mediation not appropriate?

There are also some instances where mediation may not be appropriate. For example, if a manager does not believe an open discussion will solve the problems at hand, mediation is probably not the best idea. 
Serious workplace issues such as bullying and harassment are also not ideal candidates for mediation as they often require much more serious action to be taken. 

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