The 190,000 individual employment tribunal claims in 2007/2008 could have been reduced by more effective use of workplace mediation, according to a new guide from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Acas.
Mediation: An Employer's Guide offers a unique insight into an employers' experience of mediation. It draws on a comprehensive survey of CIPD members, a GfK NOP commissioned survey of 500 small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and a series of in-depth case studies of companies with established mediation schemes.
According to the survey of SMEs, almost half said that the last mediation they were involved in had resolved the issue completely (49%), and more than four in five (82%) said it had resolved the issues either completely or partly.
Mike Emmott, Employee Relations Adviser, CIPD says: "Gaining the commitment of senior managers to mediation is key to ensuring that line managers buy into the process and promote its use as an informal mechanism to resolve disputes. The way in which mediation arrangements are introduced and embedded within an organisation is crucial to ensuring effectiveness in resolving internal conflict.
"Policy-makers and organisations are increasingly recognising that mediation has a particular resonance in the workplace. Negative conflict between individuals or groups of individuals can severely hamper an organisation's drive for competitive advantage and damage employee well-being.
"The advantage of using an informal approach means there is greater flexibility in how it is used to suit specific circumstances, and the confidentiality of the process can offer a breathing space that allows more open and honest discussion."
According to the survey of CIPD members, in only 16% of cases was mediation said to follow an actual or threatened tribunal claim, but those that utilised it reaped the rewards – in 9% of instances a claim was withdrawn*. This suggests that, in the majority of cases where mediation is used, it is effective in resolving issues that would otherwise have had to be resolved in a tribunal.
Professor John Purcell, Acas' Strategic Academic Adviser: "Acas has long promoted the benefits of mediation. The cost of conflict at work is significant – to all parties involved, and to the reputation of the organisation as a whole. Mediation can provide an informal route to resolving difficulties, finding lasting solutions and at the same time avoiding costly tribunals. This guide, developed in partnership with the CIPD, provides detailed information to organisations interested in exploring the mediation option. Especially useful are the insights in the guide, gathered from a range of organisations with experience of setting up mediation arrangements from scratch. I commend the guide to HR experts, managers, and employees."
* Figures exclude conciliation provided by Acas in employment tribunal cases.
The guide is available to download at: http://www.acas.org.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=949&p=0
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