How professional workplace mediation can help you avoid costly court proceedings

Most workplaces will see an occasional dispute or disagreement arise from time to time, as a consequence of a simple misunderstanding, a personality clash, or a difference of opinion. This might occur among staff, between a staff member and a manager or supervisor, or within the management team.

Rather the ignoring the issue or hoping that it will resolve itself, adequate workplace dispute mediation can help to ensure the problem is dealt with before it becomes a significant problem in your workplace – which can negatively effect other members of staff or productivity overall.

As a number of cases investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman have demonstrated, failing to adequately address an issue between two aggrieved parties can sometimes allow the conflict to escalate to a more serious matter, leading to court and litigation.

For instance, in one case recently brought in front of the Ombudsman, an employee claimed she was unfairly dismissed after an argument over a faulty fire alarm caused her to ‘snap’ and argue with her superior. It was ordered that she be repaid almost $8,000 in lost wages.

The ability to effectively resolve workplace disputes is a very important part of any management toolkit. As a dispute resolution technique, workplace mediation helps all people involved to recover a workable relationship or reach an agreeable outcome, without court intervention.

The Federal Court has recognised that for some cases, workplace mediation is an alternative to a judge imposing a decision. Workplace Mediation is an appropriate measure in situations where:
•   Parties to a grievance are willing or prefer that a matter is dealt with through an informal mediation process, rather than through a formal investigation
•   The matters do not involve serious misconduct or a serious breach of company policy, but rather are a result of misunderstanding, personality clashes or a difference of opinion
•   The matter can be resolved realistically through mediation.

Successful mediation can enhance and assist your organisation in stabilising ongoing internal and external working relationships, and achieve better outcomes for all parties involved. iHR Australia’s Workplace Mediation Skills Training course guides participants through the key principles of conducting an effective workplace mediation, focusing on best practice processes and the skills required of an effective mediator. A number of key topics are addressed, including:
•   The importance of managing conflict in the workplace
•   Key legislation and guidelines
•   Designing a mediation plan
•   The mediation process step by step
•   The mediator’s skills, knowledge and attributes
•   Breaking impasse and other useful strategies
•   Developing the mediation agreement

Workplace Mediation Skills Training is presented by one of iHR’s expert Senior Workplace Relations Advisors, and utilises our unique Workplace Reality Theatre, where the facilitator and our actors will re-enact relevant and engaging scenarios from real-life mediations for group discussions.
Alternatively, employers may wish to employ the services of a skilled and experienced mediator. iHR Australia’s Workplace Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services are delivered by trained mediators, who have extensive experience conducting mediations within a range of organisations and industries. We can assist parties recover a workable relationship or reach an agreeable outcome without expensive court intervention.