The conduct of mediation by Human Resources (HR) and other management professionals within firms in the private sector has in recent years been widely acknowledged as a potentially desirable, value added capability. In Alexander Colvin’s analysis of a “‘best case’ example among current non-union [ADR] procedures” in the private sector, he notes the potential efficacy of human resources managers in providing “internal mediation” in resolving disputes within non-union private sector firms prior to reversion to more costly, high stakes ADR solutions – including arbitration. In spite of this acknowledgement of value however, clear proscriptions regarding the limitations of this practice and specific scenarios and techniques amenable to in-house mediation in the non-union private sector have yet to be comprehensively outlined to date, leaving application up to the individual discretion of HR and other managers implementing ADR policies in the workplace. To correct this gap, there needs to be an evaluation of the issues and opportunities related to the general application of internal mediation along with those inherent in the three primary mediation techniques (transformative, evaluative and facilitative). Certain conditions along with structured approaches and support measures taking into account the characteristics and the potential issues with mediation techniques in the internal, non-union context can overcome many of the underlying issues inherent in internal mediation.
Mediation is now being delivered to a greater extent by trained and competent HR and line managers, without needing to rely on external support. As employers give more attention to managing conflict and maintaining effective workplace relationships, HR professionals are being empowered to adopt a bigger role as mediators and peacekeepers.