As the working population continues to grow, there comes the increased risk of bullying and harassment in the workplace. According to the Gov UK website, ‘bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended’. Although there are no legislations in place to protect against bullying, the Equality Act 2010 protects employees from being harassed due to factors including their age, sex or disability.
For many businesses, mediation continues to be a popular form of dispute resolution. By bringing in a third party to oversee a structured mediation session, many individuals are able to solve their issues swiftly and come to an agreement over the appropriate way to interact in the future. Let’s take a look at the steps a mediator will take to resolve bullying or harassment disputes.
What constitutes bullying or harassment in the workplace?
There is a fine line between constructive criticism and bullying. Senior leaders and managers need to ensure the advice and motivation they provide to under performing staff is done in a structured manner. In many cases, the term ‘bullying’ becomes relevant when the behaviour continues for a marked length of time and causes upset or anger for the individual in question.
Common examples of bullying include:
- Malicious rumours being spread about the individual
- Training or promotion opportunities being denied for an unfair reason
- Consistent undermining of an individual
Sometimes this takes place in a face-to-face environment, such as in an office. In other situations, it can be carried out digitally via email, text message or even social media. Bullying and harassment can be aimed at a single employee or a group of workers and does not always come from the higher legs of the hierarchical ladder.
For many individuals who are victim to this harassment, reports of anxiety, panic attacks or even health issues including headaches can be detrimental to their well-being. It is vital that these disputes are resolved quickly and in the most amicable fashion for everyone involved.
What are the causes?
The causes are varied and extensive. In some work environments, a lack of direct communication can cause a breakdown in the understanding of each other’s roles. Heavy workloads can put undue stress on a team, thereby causing bullying and harassment if it is not felt everyone is pulling their weight. Lack of training can result in low work self-confidence and a lacking ability to perform each task to the highest standard.
How can mediation help workplace bullying or harassment?
If the individuals in question are unable to solve their conflict independently, a mediation provides the assistance needed to come to a solution. Initially, their role is to establish the likelihood of restoring a working relationship for the benefit of the organisation. They will look into the history of the bullying or harassment to discover where it stems from. From here, they can begin to better understand the individual situation and how it has escalated.
Pre-mediation is a time for the mediator to build a trusting relationship with each participant. It allows everyone to speak freely about the experience, discussing the impact it has had and their own point of view. During this time, information about confidentiality and its limits will be discussed to keep every session open.
Mediation sessions provide a platform for each participant to better understand the issues at hand. The goal behind the conflict resolution meeting is to come to an agreement on how the relationship will interact in the future. If additional training would improve an employee’s ability to complete his roles, this can be suggested to higher management. The aim of mediation sessions is to allow the individuals in question to resolve the issue with the support and help of a neutral party. Mediators won’t make direct decisions for you and have no legal power to enforce the agreements.
However, this process is considerably cheaper and time-efficient that legal action. It contains the allegations to the workplace and works to find solutions that are beneficial to both parties. By resolving workplace disputes quickly, businesses are less likely to see issues such as poor performance or reputation damage
For more advice on mediation and dispute resolution for bullying and harassment in the workplace, contact The Resolution People. We provide support, information and help you find the right mediator for your needs.