It is widely accepted that it is cheaper to retain an employee than it is to hire and train a new employee. However, especially in this age of the Great Resignation, keeping employees can be easier said than done. Mediation can often be the solution to this problem.
There are many reasons why employees, especially younger employees, might quit their jobs. The challenge is that those reasons are not necessarily reasons the leaders of the organization would think of. While Generation X and Baby Boomer leaders probably think the employees are just looking for more money, it is often the case that Millennial and Generation Z employees are looking for work-life balance, more of a challenge, and growth opportunities. A qualified mediator will listen to both sides of a conflict and help find common ground. It is often the case that the desires of the two sides are not mutually exclusive, and the employee can be kept on, saving both the money of searching for a replacement and the institutional knowledge the employee already has.
Mediators can also help with other types of internal conflicts. Two employees may be feuding with each other over a perceived slight. Two divisions of an organization may be struggling to see each other’s perspectives as they collaborate on a project. Employees may be upset with their leaders, but not yet threatening to quit. In all of these cases, a neutral third party can help resolve the conflict.
Many companies send their Human Resources Director to conflict management training. For small conflicts, those HR Directors are a great first-line option. However, as conflicts escalate, there are two reasons to bring in a professional mediator, even if the HR Director has some training. First, HR Directors have many responsibilities, and they can’t be a true expert in everything. Someone who mediates conflicts every day has an advantage in experience. Second, and more importantly, a mediator must be perceived as neutral by all parties involved. It is difficult for an HR Director to seem neutral when mediating a dispute where their employer is a party. This is why a trusted mediator should be in the Rolodex or Contacts (depending on your generation) of every HR Director.