In-house Mediation Programs Save You Money, Do You Have One?

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More and more employers are realizing the cost savings of implementing a comprehensive early dispute resolution program that incorporates mediation and settles cases, avoiding the need to go through time consuming and costly litigation.  Boeing, United Parcel Service, Darden Restaurants, among others, offer their employees a multi-step process to settle disputes arising in the course of employment.  King County and the Seattle Federal Executive Board offer an in-house mediation program known as “shared neutrals” to their employees to resolve a variety of interpersonal disputes.  The report from both government and private experience is that the savings are well worth the time and money spent in setting up and administering the program.

Most in-house comprehensive programs involve some kind of multi-step process.  Usually the first step involves speaking directly to the person with whom they are in conflict and engaging in negotiation.  Some organizations provide training on how to more effectively engage in such a conversation, others just encourage the interaction or an “open-door” policy.    The next step involves mediation and using in-house mediators or hiring a private outside mediator.  The final step is usually binding arbitration.  Some companies also employ a peer review process which may consist of a combination of managers and employees.

The types of disputes that end up in mediation vary broadly.  Most organizations find that mediation of their EEO complaints is an effective first step which not only enhances the communication between the parties but avoids expensive litigation.  Other organizations have broadened their use of mediation to include union grievances, disputes between employees that are not necessarily discrimination related and disputes between managers.  Some even offer mediation when there is a dispute with their customers.

According to the Harvard Negotiation Law Review in an online article in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, “In-house ADR programs and policies, specifically mediation, enhance corporations’ business relationships, save valuable time, and offer significant cost savings in comparison to traditional litigation… In the past few years, companies have been recognizing this value and implementing programs to take advantage of it. Many companies have formed Conflict Management Programs or Corporate ADR Programs that make use of mediation; some exclusively incorporate mediation.”

Many organizations find they can start small, by instituting a program as a pilot in one division or function.  Others simply let their managers know they can hire outside mediators on an ad hoc basis as the need arises.  However large or small, it is never been a better time to try some type of early dispute resolution in order to realize the costs such programs can give.  If you are interested in starting such a program or you have a dispute that could be headed to litigation if not resolved, call ACDRS today to discuss your needs and learn how you too can save money, heartache and time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jerome F. Rock July 22, 2010 at 8:34 am

I am organizing articles and reports demonstrating the “business case” for ADR


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