Mediation’s role in ‘healthy and happy’ workplaces

Risk Matters - Spring 2022

Mediation is a powerful preventative tool, available to LGIS members. Using the LGIS mediation service early can avoid workplace issues that may lead to psychological injury.

Local governments have a duty of care to provide safe workplaces, with appropriate controls put in place for all hazards – this includes psychological hazards. The Work Health and Safety Act (WA) 2020 (WHS Act) states that a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) must prevent and manage psychological injuries in order to ensure a healthy and happy workplace, a local government is a PCBU.

The mediation process is a great resource to use as part of your plan to create a psychologically healthy workplace.

Impact of bad psychological health on a workplace

‘Health’, as defined by the WHS Act, is both physical and psychological health. Psychological health in particular can be impacted severely if a worker is exposed to a poorly managed environment, workplace violence, traumatic event, bullying or harassment, fatigue and high work pressures.

This may impact an organisation in the form of unplanned absences like sick leave, withdrawal and presenteeism, staff turnover or frequent task errors.

Other sections in this season's Risk Matters

Where we’ve been

Over 120 people attended the CEO Breakfast or Local Government Risk Forum on Tuesday 6 September 2022, at Crown Perth.
Representatives from across the state — from Port Hedland to Esperance and everywhere in between joined together to network and explore current risk issues for the sector.

Read More »

Understanding mediation

Mediation typically translates to an intervention aimed at resolving a conflict situation between two parties. It isn’t necessary for the outcome to be any kind of friendship; it can be an effort to establish a professional environment where all parties are comfortable.

Another important point is that the mediation process is not about finding faults. Instead it is a voluntary, no blame, confidential system that can be highly effective for agreeing the way forward, especially as an early intervention. 

How does mediation work?

When an issue or grievance is identified, and both parties are willing to work on improving the working relationship, an LGIS mediator can facilitate the process. 

LGIS mediation involves a two-stage process. Stage one is the pre-mediation phase, where the key parties in the conflict adequately prepare themselves to individually come together in a safe and supported environment. In stage two, the joint mediation phase, the parties identify and respectfully discuss what they need from each other for a better working relationship. 

An agreement is drawn up, which both parties sign, and the LGIS mediator then works with local leaders (e.g. a line manager or human resources professional) to establish effective monitoring and support.

When mediation isn’t the answer

Mediation is not always appropriate and sometimes it may not be sufficient to resolve entrenched workplace issues. In the event of complex matters involving high numbers of workers or long-standing issues, the LGIS people risk team will work with local governments to provide consulting advice and conduct a workplace needs analysis. 

This involves gathering information from each member of the workgroup and its leaders about their perceptions of the strengths, concerns and opportunities for improvement around
the current people-related risks. 

Findings will be produced and typically include an analysis
of the key themes and recommendations to establish effective ways of working together to Address any identified concerns.

More information

For more information on mediation or managing workplace conflicts, please contact the Emma Horsefield – People Risk Manager on 0407 957932 or e-mail [email protected]

Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Other sections of this season's Risk Matters