Mediation is a formal technique for resolving conflict between two opposing parties. It is one of the core principles within the Alternative Dispute Resolution framework and involves a neutral third party working together with two parties in dispute so as to reach a mutual agreement. The neutral third party is known as the mediator.
Research from the UK CIPD shows that in situations where mediation is used to resolve disputes in the workplace, 82% of the issues are resolved completely or partly, with 49% being resolved completely. Mediation is clearly an effective alternative form of dispute resolution. According to the CIPD, workplace mediation is more commonly delivered by external mediators, but many organizations train internal HR staff in mediation and deploy them in order to resolve disputes.
But, when a conflict occurs between new employees and their managers in the orientation or probationary period, a period which is closely linked to the hiring and talent acquisition process, should corporate recruiters mediate, (assuming they have been trained of course)? In truth, using corporate recruiters as mediators in this period, would be problematic, because many of the ensuing problems are likely to be linked to misaligned expectations which were established during the recruitment process. This means that the corporate recruiter may have been involved in the faulty hiring process or at least will be working according to the recruitment processes and procedures that may have failed. This means that the corporate recruiter may arguably not be a neutral party. For example, if the employee or manager began to question the quality of the recruitment process they would arguably be indirectly criticizing the corporate recruiter mediator, causing them to become defensive. It would seem unwise for a corporate recruiter to become directly involved in mediation therefore as they are not neutral and one of the core principles of alternative dispute resolution is mediation by a neutral party.
However, since premature employee departure can often be attributed to failings in the recruitment process it is clear that recruiters are important stakeholders in the orientation and probationary period process. It is in the corporate recruiter’s interest to monitor employee turnover and disputes during the orientation and probationary period, especially as employees are thought in general to be greater ‘flight risks’ than longer serving employees. Corporate recruiters should work with both employees and managers during the early stages of a new hire’s career, encouraging both employee and managers to openly discuss any problems. Encouraging open communication from the beginning will help to prevent the situation from developing into a full blown dispute.
Even though corporate recruiters should not deliver mediation during talent acquisition, they should ensure that managers and new recruits are made aware of HR mediation services and corporate policies, which can be used if they are unable be able to resolve differences. However, this is as far as the corporate recruiters responsibility should go in mediation during the talent acquisition process. All HR staff should be trained to deliver a strong, clear message to employees, with a firm grasp of company procedures.