Long-term absence as a result of work-related stress is on the increase and although there is discussion on whether stress causes conflict, or conflict causes stress, it does provide HR with a real challenge in appropriately supporting the employee to return to work. The Office of National Statistics (2012) states that last year alone, 131 million days were lost due to sickness absence, and days lost is a major HR metric that most large employers are eager to see reduced.
Normal absence processes fall to the default position of being formal meetings, where managers and HR are involved and where open and honest discussion perhaps does not surface as there is a checklist and a process to follow.
There can be a number of situations where mediation can provide a resolution; even before the formal sick absence process is triggered. If you picture some scenarios which can lead an employee to be off with work-related stress – informal or formal capability discussions, differences between manager and line-managed, a grievance outcome which has not been upheld, minor conflict in the team – you can see that mediation may have a valuable place in bringing people together to discuss how they feel in an honest and managed environment. This does, though, have to be dealt with sensitively and communicated properly to the absent employee, so they see the value of what a managed discussion could bring to the situation.
Mediation is a voluntary and informal process. It is such a powerful way to help people to resolve their differences and gain agreement from each other on the way forward. Just a day’s mediation can make all the difference to support your employee back to work.
Wellbeing Solutions Management offers employers a broad range of Mediation and Dispute Resolution interventions. Our popular One-Day inclusive package compresses management briefings, one-on-one sessions, a group discussion and a concluding management debriefing into a cost effective 8-hour programme. We also offer bespoke Mediation services, and on-site mediation training for HR teams and line managers.