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Why Your In-House Mediation Isn’t Working

in-house mediation

We work with many organisations that have tried in-house mediation but to no avail. Typically HR staff manage this process, which is a flawed strategy from the outset. We will explain why and look at alternative approaches here.

Company bias

The internal HR team are employed by the company so they will understandably have a natural mental sway towards the company and what success looks like for their own job function.

Not only that, as part of their job HR may have written the company handbooks, policies and procedures that they use to manage workplace grievances. This will naturally create an employer vs employee situation, at least when it comes to the employee’s mindset, which is the total opposite to how a mediation process should feel.

Mediation needs a level playing field with no hierarchy for it to be at its most effective. It’s about both parties feeling comfortable and free to discuss the issues at hand without stigma of any kind. It should be about creating a mutually beneficial outcome, not stifling the employee – which can be an accidental side effect of conducting mediation in-house.

Short-lived success

Because of the above, any apparent ‘success’ you achieve through in-house mediation will likely only be short-lived. The employee may suggest that they are happy with the outcome and to move forward in a way that suits the company but you won’t have dealt with any underlying factors.

Not only will this make a repeat episode more likely, it also limits your opportunity as an organisation to learn and improve.

When you appoint third party mediators a lot more detail will come out. Some of this could be crucial to helping you evolve as a company. It may only be a single employee who’s unhappy on the surface but that isn’t to say the same issues aren’t affecting others.

Third party mediators can help eliminate issues, increase employee satisfaction, build cohesion, and improve overall performance. If you’re always in the mindset of just nipping things in the bud, you will limit your chance to improve your culture and therefore retain and attract the best talent.

Getting mediation right when you need it can be a significant factor in boosting overall business performance.

Lacking a key ingredient

That key ingredient is an outside agency, the third party. However good you may think your in-house mediation processes are, you simply can’t replicate the environment that a third party mediator will create. You won’t get the same feedback from employees and you won’t really be resolving any deep-rooted issues.

It’s not about HR versus a third party

It’s not a fair comparison. We’re not saying that HR teams aren’t knowledgeable when it comes to mediation, we’re saying that they’re starting with a significant handicap, and one that they will struggle to overcome.

In most instances mediation shouldn’t be part of a HR person’s job role in the first place. Yes, they can help with a wide range of employee-related issues, but you should always look to a third party if you’re considering workplace mediation.

Workplace dynamics are constantly changing at the moment, much uncertainty remains, and you are likely facing HR challenges you haven’t come across before.

If you want to know more about how we can help you resolve any grievances, retain and attract talent, improve sales performance, and help you create a positive culture that gets everyone motivated to achieve the company goals, contact us on 01772 954602.

We’re also currently offering free 1-hour mediation consultations to help you further understand the benefits of workplace mediation and how you could use it effectively. Request a booking now by emailing

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