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Mediation top tips

Mediation helps people who don't see eye to eye to sort out their differences as quickly as possible - saving time, money and stress.

If you are an employer or HR Manager faced with a difference between individuals at work, here are six top tips from workplace experts, Acas.

Ensure the issue is suitable for mediation

Mediation works best in resolving relationship issues between people rather than matters of fact. For example a grievance about the way a manager spoke to someone is more suitable than a grievance about whether an allowance was payable for a particular shift. Those involved need to want to find a way forward and be willing to consider mediation as a way of resolving their differences.

Start the process sooner rather than later

It is unlikely that the issue will go away on its own so it's always better to nip things in the bud and start dealing with the problem early on. Mediation can be used at any stage in a dispute but is most effective before positions become entrenched.

Appoint a trusted, independent mediator

Parties need to be assured that the mediator appointed won't take sides and will work with both parties to find a solution everyone can live with if they are to feel confident about agreeing to mediation. The mediator might come from within the organisation in a larger company or from outside in a smaller one.

Ensure the conditions are right

Make sure separate rooms are available for both parties, that the location is acceptable to both sides and that there is enough time for solutions to be fully explored.

Don't rule out options

Wherever possible let the parties agree the way forward for themselves. Try not to restrict options or prompt solutions. Try to let parties reach their own solution.

Don't be disheartened if there is no immediate solution

Sometimes parties need to think things over and take time to accept that progress has been made.

Acas can provide an independent mediator to help resolve disputes at work or alternatively help organisations develop their own workplace mediation scheme. This can include training and accrediting their own workplace mediators, with successful candidates gaining Acas' Certificate in Workplace Mediation (CIWM) accredited by OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations).