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Mediation can be an effective solution to workplace problems

No matter how hard Kentucky employers try to foster a harmonious workplace environment, disputes will pop up. It's inevitable. How employers handle any signs of discord can set them apart from other work sites.

But if troubles pop up, mediation could be a solution.

Your company likely has an avenue for employees to voice their concerns through the human resources department. Sometimes, though, employees see human resources as an extension of the boss and don't place complete faith in a resolution. That's why calling in the services of a mediator - a neutral third party - can be so important.

The mediator doesn't have an "agenda," so to speak. The mediator's sole goal is to be the independent voice seeking to solve a problem.

Here are some tips to have a successful mediation:

  • Bring in a mediator who excels in opening dialogue between both parties. Sometimes, the two sides have a difficult time opening meaningful conversation on their own.
  • Be prepared to commit to the mediation process and agree to implement changes to improve the situation for the specific employee involved as well as all employees.
  • Leave any anger toward the employee at the door. You need to attend the mediation session with an open mind, ready to listen to the employee.
  • Be prepared to offer the employee something to resolve the situation. That doesn't have to be money. It could be something important to the employee that can't have a price put on it, such as modified work hours. Have internal discussions with managers in advance so that you know if changed hours, for example, is practical.
  • Before sitting down in mediation, reflect on actions of the company that could have led to this situation. You might be able to make some changes to prevent such a circumstance from happening again.
  • Use mediation as an opportunity to allow the employee to be heard - and listen to them. That can make the employee feel valued in the workplace.
  • If it appears the rift between the employee and the company is too wide to fix, don't be afraid to allow the mediator to explore a separation agreement with the employee if the time seems proper to do so.

It's in the best interest of all involved to seek a reasonable solution to a workplace problem. Mediation often is effective.

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