Mediation should be increasingly considered by HR to resolve workplace disputes as early as possible, according to conciliation service Acas.
At Symposium Events’ Dispute Resolution and Mediation Summit in London today, Rita Donaghy, chair of Acas, urged employers to seek ways of dealing with issues as they arise, rather than waiting until it impacts on the working environment.
She said mediation should be offered where possible to prevent arguments escalating into disputes that lead to low morale, increased absence or, if unresolved, an employment tribunal.
In 2005-06 there were 109,712 applications to employment tribunals.
Donaghy said: “With any relationship breakdown, if the individuals stop talking, it often takes intervention from a third party to get communication back on track.
“Workplace mediation is increasingly being recognised as the ideal way to resolve workplace disputes between employers, employees or colleagues.
“Most people don’t like conflict, which is why a mediator can help individuals focus on where things have gone wrong and possible ways of moving forward,” she added.
“It makes good business sense to have good working relationships. Disputes and disagreements at work are costly in time and money.
“We believe that prevention is better than cure, and mediation is just one of the services we offer which can help to resolve conflict in the workplace before it gets out of hand.”