When an employer and an employee are at odds with each other, it can take quite a bit of time to settle the dispute. Conflict resolution pulls company resources that the company could otherwise use to further its vision and it can hurt its bottom line.
An alternative way to address disputes between employers and employees is through mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and a very effective way to solve problems efficiently and in a way that takes into account both the employer and the employee’s needs.
While mediation is not appropriate for every case and sometimes litigation is the appropriate avenue for handling employment dispute matters, it may be worthwhile to consider using mediation as a tool for small-scale conflicts and disagreements, as well as misunderstandings.
Why use mediation?
- Mediation is a private way to solve disputes. This is important because some claims or concerns that an employee may express could be sensitive, and your business may not want this information all over the place.
- Mediation is not adversarial. Its intent is to provide a proper environment for conflict resolution and open communication. This can help businesses understand what is at the core of the employee’s complaint and if they are right, learn from it so they can avoid the issue next time.
- Mediation is flexible in format. In some mediations, everyone sits around the table and the mediator facilitates the conversation by providing structure and asking all parties to cooperate in communicating well. In others, each party has their own space and the mediator goes back and forth.
- Mediation does not preclude the parties from having legal representation. While it is not required, many mediation clients choose to include an attorney in their mediations for both counsel and assistance in understanding.
Disagreements and conflict are inevitable. It is imperative to remember this and to avoid falling into the trap of seeing situations as black or white, when most issues fall somewhere in between. Mediation provides a non-adversarial way to address those disagreements which hopefully will support, rather than harm your business.