Minister for employment relations Edward Davey last night commended the "fantastic work" of the organisations shortlisted for Personnel Today's new award for Innovation in Dispute Resolution in a speech at the ceremony.
The award, sponsored by mediation services provider TCM, was presented to East Sussex County Council for a mediation programme that reduced the number of formal disputes by 47% and also reduced the cost of resolving conflict within the organisation.
Davey stressed the importance of mediation in tackling workplace disputes, an area that the Government announced yesterday it would be looking to improve. As part of a raft of employment law reforms, the Government intends to require all employment disputes to go to Acas for pre-claim mediation before proceeding to tribunal.
Additionally, the Government announced that it will be piloting two mediation schemes, one within the retail sector in which larger employers will share mediation expertise with small businesses, and another that will create regional mediation networks to provide mediation training to representatives from small local employers.
"It is this idea of mediation that I want to talk about, because I'm passionate about it," Davey explained last night. "I believe we can really change the whole culture if we get this right."
Davey, who presented the Innovation in Dispute Resolution award, said that he was delighted to see a new award recognising achievements in this area.
"I particularly noted in the shortlist for that new prize the fantastic work that is already going on in many businesses to try to cut the costs of going to law by managing disputes far more effectively. I believe we can build on their best practice, learn from it and begin to change the culture in our society.
"I want to thank you, as key professionals in our economy trying to deal with these issues, for the leadership you are showing. I hope you will note the way that we want to take policy in this area and I hope next year there will be even more examples of how you are sorting out disputes without having to involve lawyers."
The full list of the Personnel Today Awards 2011 winners is available here.