Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation and how can it help?

  • Mediation is a means of conflict resolution in which a third party brings individuals together in an attempt to reach agreement(s) to resolve the dispute. The mediator will have an impartial position on the events, listening to the individuals and facilitating discussion between them. A successful mediation results in a mediation agreement between the parties concerned which sets out how they will endeavour to change their behaviour to reduce tension in the future. For further information, refer to the key principles.

How do I access it?

  • Ordinarily in the first instance line managers should approach their faculty HR Adviser to discuss the options. However, trade union representatives or individuals may also speak to their faculty HR Adviser about the service. Cases are then referred to a mediation coordinator who oversees the mediation process and allocates a mediator to those who require the service. Alternatively, you can contact mediation@sheffield.ac.uk to discuss the service.

Will it stay on my record?

  • No record of either your participation in or the outcome of the mediation process is kept on your personal record. Records of service usage will be retained on an anonymous basis.

Is it confidential?

  • The mediation process is as confidential as possible, but the following people will be aware of your involvement; the referring manager, the HR Advisor, the mediation coordinator and the mediator him or herself. Any notes made by the mediator are destroyed, and the mediator will not divulge any details of the meeting to anyone, except where there is a potential unlawful act or where there is evidence of serious risk to health and safety. In such an eventuality, the mediation would cease immediately, and the mediation coordinator would be notified.

What if I don't want to do it?

  • Mediation can only work with the full and active engagement of those involved in the process. Therefore taking part in the mediation process, although encouraged where appropriate, is entirely voluntary. A mediation meeting will only take place with the wilful consent of both parties and if the mediation coordinator agrees that the situation is suitable for mediation.

What if I change my mind after agreeing to participate?

  • If you change your mind once the process is underway, and your concerns cannot be allayed by the mediator either during of or outside of the meeting, the mediation will end to the detriment of neither party.

What if it doesn't work?

  • Although it is hoped that a positive outcome can be reached through mediation, this is not always possible. In such an eventuality, no written record of the meeting is retained and the relevant policies and procedures remain open to all parties. The outcome of the mediation process will have no bearing upon any subsequent process.

Who are the mediators?

  • The mediators are mostly University staff from different grades, staff groups and departments who have undergone formal training with ACAS. They are individuals acting outside of their day-to-day role in a neutral capacity. They should have no prior knowledge of the parties involved. Their only interest in the process is producing a mediation agreement that will lead to a resolution of the dispute.

How long does it last?

  • The mediation meeting will not normally last more than a few hours, though in exceptional circumstances, a second meeting may be required.

Is it a flexible process?

  • Yes, mediation can be adapted to fit the situation and individual circumstances. It can be used where there are more than two individuals at odds.

What is the difference between mediation and facilitation?

  • These are two related yet distinct means of conflict resolution. They share similar principles, though facilitation does not follow the steps of the mediation process (see key principles), and there is no written agreement at the end of the process. It is possible that facilitation may be more appropriate for some situations; the mediation coordinator will take this into consideration.