Introducing a mediation scheme to your workplace

Workplace mediation is a voluntary and confidential process for resolving employment disputes. It involves an independent, impartial person helping two or more individuals to reach a solution that's acceptable to everyone.

Your mediators may be employees trained and accredited by an external mediation service, or they may be engaged via an external mediation provider.

The way in which mediation arrangements are introduced and embedded within a workplace is crucial to ensuring their effectiveness.

Key points:

Choose a suitable approach

The chosen approach should fit your organisation. A larger organisation may opt for a more structured approach and invest in the development of its own internal scheme. For a small organisation, it may be more appropriate to buy in the services of an external mediator when necessary. Some organisations choose a combination of the two to suit their particular needs.

Create a policy

Mediation will be most effective if it is consciously introduced as part of your organisation's approach to people management. If there are collective consultative arrangements within your organisation, mediation as a form of dispute resolution should be discussed and agreed with employee representatives.

Allocate resource

Mediation is not a quick fix, nor a one off commitment in terms of time and resource. Ongoing support and supervision of mediation arrangements is essential. If internal staff are responsible for conducting mediations, adequate time needs to be allocated for this. It is good practice for a dedicated person/team to be responsible for overseeing the mediation arrangements.

Commitment from managers

Gaining commitment from senior managers is key to the success of a mediation scheme, ensuring that managers buy in to the process and promote its use as an alternative method to resolve disputes.

Trade union support

It is essential that the acceptance and support of trade union and employee representatives are sought from an early stage in introducing mediation, or there is a risk that it may not be viewed as a legitimate option for settling differences between employees.

Selecting a mediator

It is common practice for employees to volunteer or to be nominated by their managers. It will be necessary to establish some basic criteria from the outset. A diversity of mediators should be sought ensuring representation of your workforce.

Training

For mediation to be effective, mediators need to receive training in mediation techniques. They need to understand their role and how it fits within your organisation's policies and procedures. Awareness training for other employees and for line managers and trade union/ employee representatives on how and when to use mediation, will also help to embed the scheme.

Learn more about Acas' Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation

Launch and publicity

Whether mediation arrangements represent a formal scheme, or are used on an ad hoc basis, thought needs to be given to how these are launched to managers and employees. A range of promotional methods should be considered depending on the size of your organisation, such as intranet articles, leaflets/posters, information from HR and, or employee fair treatment advisers, workshops for TU representatives and managers and adding an introduction to mediation in your company handbook and induction process.

Acas support in setting up a mediation scheme

Acas can help you set up and embed a mediation scheme within your workplace.

Contact us today to let us know how we can help

Or call our customer services team on 0300 123 1150