Do all your employees get on? Do they have grievances with each other? Are you aware of these issues before they become a big problem?

Conflict between colleagues can take on many different forms and at times this can lead to sicknessabsence. As an employer, we have a duty of care to ensure that we deal with this conflict in a timely manner to ensure not only the health and wellbeing of those involved but other colleagues and productivity. Are you aware how mediation can help to resolve these conflicts?

ACAS states “Differences between individuals at work can lead to lack of focus on the job, grievances, absences, loss of valuable employees and sometimes Employment Tribunal claims. The cost in terms of time, money and stress on managers and employees is considerable. Mediators work with those in conflict to help them find and agree their own solutions”

Key facts for dealing with conflict at work and how mediation can help resolve the issues

  1. Mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution, can play a significant role in helping to defuse a conflict situation.
  2. Using an independent, officially/qualified trained person to engage with those involved in a conflict can make real progress towards resolving it.
  3. Mediation is completely voluntary, neither party is forced to accept a compromise they’re not happy with, or accept an imposed solution. It is more about bringing both sides together to find a way forward.
  4. The aim of Mediation is to help rebuild, restore and maintain the working relationship. This means the focus is on working together to go forward, not determining who was right or wrong in the past.
  5. Mediation does not provide a guaranteed outcome which can be difficult for employers. The mediator works with the parties to try to find a solution, but there is no guarantee that the issue will be resolved. While this can be frustrating, it can, however, take the pressure off: it could mean that the parties may be more willing to engage in the process, if they are reassured that they won’t be forced to accept an outcome they’re not happy with.
  6. Key factors for successful Mediation include a willingness from both parties to engage in the process and have an open mind. The skills and competences of the mediator are essential, particularly in terms of listening skills and objectivity.
  7. To aid the successful implementation of Mediation in your organisation, you need to ensure that there is a structure in place to support it, that people know about it, and that you access a skilled fully trained mediator to do the job.
  8. Make sure that expectations aren’t too high. If people expect a quick fix, they’re likely to be disappointed, as there may not be a definitive outcome. It might also be a good idea to revise expectations of what constitutes a success. Sometimes getting people together in the same room and thus improving their relationship a little can be a major step forward, even though this may not lead to a resolution at that point in time.

Some signs of conflict may be visible such as a heated exchange between colleagues or a meeting between management and employee representatives that turns into a “stand-off”.However, not all forms of conflict are so obvious. Some individuals might hide their feelings as a way of coping with a problem; while a team might react to pressure by cutting itself off from the rest of the organisation. Sickness absence can increase and unhappiness may lead to depression or stress.


If you would like to discuss our mediation service further or access help in resolving conflict in the workplace, please do not hesitate to speak to your HR Advisor or call one of the team on 01924 827869.

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