- Mediation is effective in 80% of cases
Although the reported figures vary, organisations and mediators typically report a success rate of 70 – 90% in mediations. Success is generally categorised as reaching a working agreement on the day. However, what is also interesting is that many individuals report that the outcome of the mediation is not only that they resolve the issue at hand but also that they are better equipped to deal with future conflict situations.
- Only 7% of organisations use mediation to resolve their disputes
Notwithstanding the success rates set out above, proportionally the number of organisations using mediation is quite small. This can be for a number of reasons which can be summarised by saying that the main barrier to mediation is understanding but include:
- fears about handing over control of the conflict to a third party
- lack of clarity about if and when mediation should be used when a grievance or disciplinary process is in progress
- misconceptions about the effectiveness of mediation where there is a financial element to the dispute
- mistrust by employees of the process e.g. a mediator is being brought in to “stitch them up” or make a judgement
- the culture of the organisation has not evolved to incorporate mediation as part of the resolution process
- 40% of managers deal with conflict continuously
In the past decade, there has been a building body of evidence on the impact of conflict on mental health at work and the knock on effects on the organisation and its employees. Interestingly, even if individuals are not directly involved in conflict, being around others’ disagreements “has the potential not only to have a negative effect on the individual but to pervade the organisation”. So, for as long as conflict is not addressed at its root cause the organisation and its people are exposed to risk.
- Unresolved conflict is costly
The evidence shows that the main costs for organisations were:
- Wasted time
- Reduced decision quality
- Loss of skilled employees
- Lowered job motivation
- Loss of work time (absence)
- Health costs / absence
- Legal costs
In consultation with our own clients, we have ascertained that these costs can escalate very quickly to five times the annual salary of the employee in question.
- Mediation can be pre-empted through effective conflict management
Mediation is a process for conflict resolution in which the norms of organisational conflict resolution which prioritise finding who is right and who is wrong are put aside. Instead, the emphasis is put on empowering the individuals to take responsibility and to recognise the big picture of factors in play. The result is that they start to move towards win-win solutions. However, this can often be achieved at an early stage through enabling managers and HR to tackle the problem differently serve as “conflict coaches” to the individuals through the situation. Often, the solution lies as much in mindset as in the process and the structure of conversations.