A successful outcome is when we all take responsibility for our actions … read on…
I had an enquiry from the owner of a family-run business asking for my advice on how to resolve a difficult situation that had arisen within a seven-strong team. One of the team members had emailed a senior manager to report discriminatory behaviour of some of her colleagues. She reported derogatory comments about the ‘Chinese’ girl had been made and that other employees had received unkind or unpleasant comments. She said that the comments were sufficiently distressing that her mental health was affected.
Despite having the correct policies in place, the employer admitted that they knew there was a problem in that department and that there was evidence of a toxic environment but they didn’t know how to deal with this grievance quickly and cost-effectively. The business owner was finding this situation particularly hard as they had always valued having a good relationship with their employees.
In response, I suggested Mediation.
I recommended that all the employees involved in this matter attend a one-day Mediation in which the grievances could be addressed. Each employee attending was asked to prepare a Position Statement outlining, in their opinion, the cause of the toxic environment and how they might solve it.
I started the Workplace Resolution by having an open session with all the employees. They were initially subdued and avoided eye contact with each other. I asked each of them to tell me what they liked about working for their employer, insisting on positive feedback only. Before long, they started to reminisce on the fun they had had in the past at different work events and how they had helped each other in difficult times. They confirmed that what had originally attracted them to this employer was the family-orientated environment. None could explain why or how the unpleasant atmosphere started.
Following this, I had private sessions with each of them in turn to discuss the discriminatory comments, how this had adversely affected their workplace environment, and how they thought it could be resolved. We resumed the open session where each person clarified their feelings about the situation and their proposed solutions. , Under my guidance they started to take responsibility for their actions, acknowledging the part they had played in creating an unpleasant place to work and undertaking to change their behaviour in order to return to the more positive environment they had enjoyed in the past.
This is a prime example of how mediation allows participants to take collective responsibility for resolving a situation that had spiralled out of control. Such an outcome would be difficult to achieve in the adversarial context of a Grievance or Disciplinary or in tribunal hearing.
Moreover, this one-day Mediation saved the company valuable management time and costs and, most importantly, preserved the employer-employee relationship and the employees themselves, The employees were grateful to their employer for this opportunity to resolve what had clearly become an intolerable situation..
Using mediation to deal with and resolve harassment and discrimination issues in the workplace can be very cost-effective for employers who would otherwise have to deal with work related stress, absences, depression and claims of disability discrimination.
Employers must deal with these issues promptly and effectively and Workplace Resolution offers a swift and cost-effective solution.
If you want to know more about the Mediation process and our services call or email Mali Smith a qualified and experienced Mediator on: firstname.lastname@example.org /01926 880787.
We are here to help.
Articles by Mali outlining mediation as a cost-effective and practical way to resolve workplace disputes have appeared in the May 2023 edition of Operations Engineer and the June edition of Boating Business.