Seven out of 10 businesses could be vulnerable to staff losses or tribunal claims because they aren’t using mediation to resolve workplace conflicts.
That’s the claim from experts at Ringwood-based Human Resources firm Jaluch, who fear extra pressures brought about by the recession could be adding to already stressful working relationships.
Elisabeth Fitch, a Jaluch Director and professional mediator, said: “Mediation is the recommended process when two members of staff refuse to work together because of longstanding differences of opinion.
“Disagreements and personality clashes in the workplace are inevitable from time to time but leaving them to linger can bring a whole host of problems including increased staff absence and official grievance procedures, which can end up being costly and time consuming.”
The new ACAS code, which came into force earlier this year, brings a greater focus on the need to mediate but Jaluch (jaluch.co.uk), which provides HR support to more than 400 organisations, claims few companies are heeding the code’s advice.
Elisabeth added: “Mediation is a structured and confidential way to bring employees together who are in dispute to find mutually acceptable solutions. It’s ‘without prejudice’, which means what’s raised in a mediation session can’t necessarily be used as evidence in a tribunal.
“In our experience mediation is an effective way of preventing workplace tensions from spiralling out of control. Yet around 70 per cent of companies aren’t using it. We come across companies who get this wrong on an almost daily basis and burn through thousands of pounds in the process.
“Left alone disputes snowball – in a typical case one party goes off sick, then submits a grievance before resigning. Their employment tribunal claim usually follows closely after.”
Mediation can be carried out by in-house staff, providing they aren’t directly linked to the source of conflict, or run by external experts.