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Introduction to workplace mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process led by an impartial third party that organisations can use to resolve conflict. Conflict can occur in any employment relationship and is best dealt with early at source. If left unchecked, it can fester and escalate, potentially leading to grievance and discipline procedures or employment tribunals. Mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution, avoids these more formal and costlier routes by guiding participants towards reaching mutual acceptable solutions.

Workplace conflict is most likely to be resolved when direct action, either informal or formal, is taken. Mediation isn’t the only course of action. In some cases, it may be most appropriate to go straight to a formal disciplinary procedure and in others, one party may refuse to take part in mediation. However, it is typically less costly, both in time, money and relationship fallout, than the more formal routes of grievance, discipline and tribunals.

The success of mediation lies partly in the fact that it’s voluntary and the parties enter the process as willing participants with a common goal of wanting to sort out their differences. It is an opportunity to find ‘win-win’ solutions that suit both parties.

The earlier that mediation is used in an employment dispute, the greater the chance of successfully resolving the conflict and re-establishing workable relationships. As conflict continues, people’s positions often become entrenched and it gets harder to find resolution. There’s a strong case for developing skills in relationship building and mediation throughout organisations and, rather like coaching skills, making them a core part of the people management skills set.

That is where our workplace mediators at ProMediate can help. We all have experience of dealing with workplace conflict effectively and efficiently, often being able to help people to improve their workplace relationships and behaviours in a single day. Contact us at

If an incentive to mediate is needed, people should bear in mind the current delays experienced in the employment tribunal, as reported in the Gazette:

Employment tribunals are still being delayed by several months and courts are not responding to calls, solicitors have told the Gazette. A survey by the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) has also found that courts are taking longer to reply to written correspondence than they did a year ago. 

Employment tribunal fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and since then claims to employment tribunals have more than doubled.

While 4,291 single claims were received in January to March 2017, 9,500 were received in January to March 2019. The number of outstanding cases has also surged by almost 40% compared to the same quarter last year. 

The ELA, which heard from 387 of its members, revealed that 75% of survey respondents said that replies to written correspondence and applications take longer than they did a year ago. 

Over 77% of respondents said that final hearings were being listed over a year after the issue of a claim and more than 66% of respondents experienced an increase in the time tribunals are taking to deal with the service of claims. 

Tribunals in London, Watford, Reading and Cardiff are particularly badly hit, according to the ELA.