Resolving a workplace dispute: Mediation

29-Nov-2019

Here at ASMOF, we are talking about alternative ways to resolve workplace conflict. Workplace conflict can arise in a number of ways, from disagreements of clinical opinions, grievances, to more serious and harmful conduct such as bullying and harassment. Ultimately, it can lead to a breakdown of trust and confidence in the relationship between the parties.

The evidence suggests that when trust breaks down it can have significant impacts to staff morale and productivity. It can lead to situations where employees tend to limit the sharing of ideas, improvements and concerns, often due to a fear they will be taken advantage of. Moreover, if the conduct escalates to bullying and harassment, it can cause serious impacts to the health and wellbeing of the victim.

From our perspective, good industrial relations involve dealing with issues early and quickly, to limit the spreading or festering of the issue.

To do that, we advise members to feel empowered to raise concerns with your manager, or human resources, with a view to deescalate the situation.

However, if management or HR are unable to resolve the matter, or they themselves are involved, we encourage members to contact us to help identify and work with you to mitigate or resolve the situation.

In considering how to resolve workplace conflict, there are a number of options. Today, we are looking at mediation.

At its core, mediation is a voluntary process, supported by a neutral third party to help participants negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. The benefits include its flexibility in resolving the dispute, it is far less complex than legal action, it values confidentiality and it is often more efficient.

It also aims to empower the true disputants to retake ownership of their dispute. Consequently, the disputants actively engage in the efforts made during the mediation to resolve the dispute and own the settlement of it. In this way, those involved end up with genuine sense of closure.

Of course, the above is dependent upon the quality of the mediator, the willingness of the parties to resolve the matter, and the support provided to participants by their union or representative.

Nevertheless, mediation can be an appropriate and useful strategy to resolving conflict prior to the matter escalating, or moving into the stage of a formal investigation.

If you have a workplace grievance, and would like to know your rights at work please contact ASMOF at allocation@asmof.org.au.

Further, if you know of a non-member who may be involved in workplace disagreement or conflict, please refer them on to join us so that we can provide them with expert and confidential advice and assistance.