By Fiona Colquhoun, Director, and Daniel Kershen, Foundation Co-ordinator, CEDR

Personnel Today, 23rd May 2011, reports on the findings of a conflict management survey, (XpertHR) describing how half of the organisations surveyed have adapted their conflict resolution strategies to include mediation. This is positive news for long term mediation campaigners such as CEDR. The survey illustrates high support for mediation with 77.6% of a sample of 190 employers recognising that mediation has the potential to significantly reduce tribunal claims.

This survey supports last year’s CEDR campaign; Tough Times, Tough Talk, which received national news coverage for its value added in the workplace. It’s encouraging to see that there is a real enthusiasm for mediation and ADR at work, and we are keen to offer our expertise to help innovate and build ways of having difficult conversations necessary in the workplace without the stress and tension that often accompanies these. On top of this it is important, for example, for employers and trade unions to have access to our best trainers (who are all also practising mediators) and offer the highest quality benchmark for conflict resolution training through our workplace mediation skills training programmes.

Workplace mediation is very much under the microscope at the moment. The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched their consultation document in January 2011, examining potential steps to improve and develop employee relations, deal more effectively with grievances, and simplify Employment Tribunal processes.

Karl Mackie has responded to this consultation giving information about CEDR’s presence in Workplace and Employment mediation, its uptake and successes, and proposing that private organisations registered with the Civil Mediation Council (CMC) co-exist with ACAS, as the state provider, to offer a range of neutral ‘ADR services’, mainly mediation to employers and employees alike.

The CEDR Mediation Audit 2011 reported that between 2007 and 2011, workplace mediation cases increased by 30%, the workplace arena is certainly one of CEDR’s focal growth areas. The report also shows the success of workplace mediation, with 85% of employment mediation cases settling at mediation and 90% settling post mediation, and over 95% of cases achieving something of value to the parties. Mediation is a tool that is helpful at any stage of an employment dispute and has the potential to save considerable time and costs for both parties.

The potential for the shift in focus from Employment tribunals to mediation in dealing with Workplace disputes is encouraging to see and certainly aligns with CEDR’s prerogative to push for ADR and mediation to be further included and adopted in this sector. We are excited about receiving the response to the Consultation and have high hopes that it will result in a move towards mediation and away from expensive and time-consuming tribunals. Most of all though it will give both employees and employers the opportunity to develop a more collaborative and less adversarial culture within the workplace with all the benefits that will bring to business in all sectors.

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by CEDR

The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) is an independent, non-profit organisation with a mission to cut the cost of conflict and create choice and capability in dispute prevention and resolution. www.cedr.com