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Conflicts in the workplace can cover a variety of scenarios ranging from bullying and harassment to poor performance and even terminations.

Conflicts can manifest from a variety of sources including:

  • personality clashes
  • relationship breakdowns
  • communication issues
  • unfair treatment
  • unresolved issues

These common causes of conflict often combine to create toxic personal and professional grievances. When grievances are allowed to bubble away unresolved, this can lead to more costly formal proceedings such as grievances and Employment Tribunal claims.

Whilst workplace conflict is an unavoidable reality for many businesses, mediation can offer a cost-effective solution to manage conflict within a workplace.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a structured, confidential, and voluntary process where an impartial mediator assists parties in generating solutions to resolve the difficulties that have arisen between them.

Mediation can be used to tackle a number of common workplace disputes including:

  • Breakdown of a working relationship
  • grievance or disciplinary proceedings
  • bullying or harassment allegations
  • Contract and pay disputes
  • Senior Management / Board level conflict

Mediation can be considered at any point of a conflict and can aim to not only solve the pressing dispute but can also create improvements in behaviour, attitude and communication within an organisation.

Emotions and Mediation

Often parties involved in workplace conflicts experience strong emotions that influence their perception, behaviour and decision surrounding the conflict. These can spiral into tense office environments or heated grievance meetings.

Mediation can explore and help parties manage these emotions and create an environment that is fruitful for discussing mutually agreeable solutions.

Whilst sometimes strong emotions can cause parties to become entrenched in the conflict they can also serve as a useful tool for understanding parties underlying goals within mediation.

What is the mediation process?

To manage parties’ emotions the mediation process serves as a useful tool to provide a confidential forum to discuss concerns and open up the conversation.

We say there is power and confidence in formality!

Formal workplace mediation aims to facilitate clear communication between the parties to resolve the conflict.

The time frame and format of the mediation will depend on the case, sometimes the dispute can be resolved within a day and each process will be tailored to the participants’ needs.

  1. A mediator will discuss with the parties their dispute to understand what brings the parties to the mediation table.
  2. The parties will confirm their commitment to mediation and the mediator will liaise with the parties in private and joint sessions to listen to concerns and perspectives and ask difficult but important questions to guide the parties in communicating clearly with one another
  3. The session will then aim to focus the parties on a future with the conflict and explore the parties understanding on what a realistic solution could be.

Benefits of Mediation

With workplace conflict estimated to cost the UK £28.5 billion per year, mediation is a critical tool for employers and employees to utlise to get their workplace back on track and manage strong emotions in the workplace.

Alongside opening up the conversation there are multiple benefits of mediation, these benefits include:

  • Reduced likelihood of legal action being initiated
  • Saving time, energy and financial cost
  • Develop communication skills for staff
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Enhanced work environment
  • Allow staff to express concerns in a safe space
  • Avoid escalation
  • Facilitate difficult conversations
  • Rebuilding and reestablishing the workplace


If you need advice on managing difficult conversations in the workplace and want to explore mediation or our training on How to Handle Difficult Conversations in the workplace please contact us at 0333 888 1360 or complete the enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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