New research from CMP Resolutions shows HR departments potentially wasting money on mediation

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For the first time research from a mediations specialist has shown evidence of what makes in-house mediation deliver value to an employer

CMP Resolutions
It made sense to establish what differentiates a good service from an ineffective one

There has never been a report that has researched the true value of mediation services to a company. CMP Resolutions have now bucked that trend with in depth analysis to investigate the value and losses attributed to a mediation service.

Katherine Graham, Managing Director at CMP Resolutions says: "No-one has researched what actually makes an internal mediation service work, but with mediation on every employer’s agenda it made sense to establish what differentiates a good service from an ineffective one.

The main message is that if you don’t have an in-house service, then make sure you have the headcount to make that the right option for your organisation. My message for BIS is that it needs to encourage employers to not only use mediation more often, but to use mediation more wisely. In house mediation needs more than just mediators – it needs management, maintenance and measurement.”

This research gathered detailed data from more than 40 in-house mediation services; well-established and new services, and from all organisational sizes and sectors. It found over half were handling fewer than 10 mediations a year. Each mediation costs a conservative £1250 to carry out with in house mediators, compared to around £1500 for commissioning an external mediator. So not only is this an underutilization of the benefits of mediation, it also does not make financial sense.

But it can be done right, and the research identifies the key factors enabling an in-house mediation service to deliver value:

1) Be large. 80% of organisations operating at a cost per mediation lower than buying in a mediator had a 5000+ FTE headcount. With all other factors in place, size becomes less significant.

2) Put in place one mediator for every 900 employees, and contract them to do 3 mediations a year. Any fewer and it’s cheaper to outsource.

3) Put a mediation service manager in post. 75% of organisations delivering their own mediations at less than £700 per case had someone in charge of the service. Having a specific service manager responsible for the mediation provision is key to ensuring the service is effectively managed and promoted and delivers a reasonable number of cases. This significantly increases the success of the mediation service in terms of case referrals, mediator competence, and service management.

4) Get senior management backing. Without this, in house mediation services fade away and perish.

5) Monitor and evaluate. The least labour intensive way to monitor and evaluate is to ask two key questions of parties: “Were you minded to take out a grievance before the mediation, and have you changed this view?” (capturing potential savings per grievance diverted); and “Would you recommend our mediation service to colleagues?” (capturing their satisfaction with the overall experience).

6) Be patient. It takes, on average, 3 years for organisations to get a cost per mediation of under £700.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills wants to make mediation more accessible to all, and the results of this study will help those organisations embarking on their mediation journey to get it right.

You can visit CMP to find full details of the mediation research and download the research report here.

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Ben Prior
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