A recent study by the CIPD has identified that “conflict and bullying tend to increase during financial downturns and managers need to be ready to address incidents early so as not to let them damage wellbeing or performance”. With conflict and bullying inevitably come complaints and grievances, and the new grievance regime introduced by the revised Acas Code of Practice from next month is therefore very much to be welcomed.  

However, in many people’s eyes the future of managing conflict of this sort lies not in the body of the Code but in the Foreword, and in particular the reference there to resolving grievances and disputes by mediation. Used early and well, mediation and facilitation have the potential to resolve many such disputes at source, cheaply and discreetly. At the same time, they can both minimise the scope for the taking up of entrenched positions and the risk of substantial drains on time and cost and also give the best chance of restoring necessary working relationships. Statistics show that some 80% of employment mediations settle the same day.