Mediation is commonly used in the corporate setting to resolve employee disputes, develop operating agreements and other types of contracts, and to resolve disputes among partners, shareholders, and other key members of an organization. While mediation can be highly effective for workplace conflicts, one often overlooked use of this process is to add it as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Mediation Services as an Employee Benefit
In the past few decades, one of the major concerns among employers has become the health and wellness of their employees. Numerous studies have been conducted highlighting the benefits of workplace wellness programs. Most experts agree that Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that emphasize wellness produce a positive return on investment, perhaps as high as $2.50 to $4 for every dollar invested.
Typically, EAPs include healthy living incentives, telehealth services, counseling, and access to financial and legal assistance, among other services. Implementation of these programs has been shown to lower absenteeism, increase employee productivity and job satisfaction, reduce turnover, and foster a happier and healthier overall work environment.
Adding mediation as an EAP can enhance the positive affects of these programs by giving employees access to a solution for personal conflicts. We all know that it can be difficult to concentrate on work when you are struggling with personal issues. These struggles can have a negative effect on employee attitudes and cause them to take out their frustrations on co-workers.
When mediation services are added to the list of EAPs, employees with personal conflicts have access to a service that allows them to resolve their conflict rather than just cope with it. Oftentimes, the average person is not aware of solutions such as mediation, and when they have a serious conflict in their personal lives, they often believe that the only option they have is to take legal action.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that can often be used as a viable alternative to litigation. The process is facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator whose job is to guide the discussion toward a mutually beneficial resolution. Mediation is voluntary and non-binding, and although the mediator is in charge of the process, participants control the outcome. The mediator has no authority to impose a resolution that is not agreed upon by all participants.
The Advantages of Mediation
Employees can use mediation to resolve virtually any personal conflict they are dealing with. This process is often used successfully for divorces, separations, estate settlement, elder care, and other family legal matters.
There are several ways employees can benefit from mediation as an alternative to going to court. These include:
Saves Money: Legal battles can become expensive very quickly. A case that goes to court can cost participants thousands of dollars, putting a major strain on their finances. Mediation can typically be completed at a fraction of the cost, which is highly beneficial for all parties involved.
Saves Time: A court case can take months or even years to resolve. Mediation can be over in just a handful of sessions. It should also be noted that even the most complex issues, including high net worth divorces, can be resolved with minimal time and cost using mediation.
Process is Confidential: Litigation becomes part of the public court records, which can be another source of stress in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. With mediation, the process is kept private and confidential, and there is never any worry that the words of the participants will be used against them in the future.
Promotes Amicable Resolutions: Mediation is conducted in a cooperative rather than combative setting, which promotes more peaceful settlements. The ability of employees to resolve issues quickly, amicably, and cost-efficiently makes them happier and more productive at work.
When HR departments consider Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), mediation is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Offering access to this service can be a major benefit for employees, however. And since this would usually be offered as a voluntary benefit in which the employee would cover most or all of the cost, employers can provide this benefit with very little extra expense for the organization.
It is no secret that divorce can be hard on children. Mountains of research has been done on this subject and endless volumes have been written about how divorce impacts the lives of the kids. How it affects them depends largely on their age and how the parents deal with it.
Younger children may throw tantrums or act out in similar ways, school-age children and teenagers may be more prone to rebel against authority, experience depression, or develop eating or sleeping disorders. Adult children may have various issues in their own relationships, such as difficulty trusting their mate.
How to Minimize the Negative Effects of a Divorce
Children almost always react negatively to a divorce, but how parents handle it is a major factor in reducing any negative impact the marriage dissolution has. Here are some ways you can help your children cope with a divorce:
Wait to Tell Your Children Until the Decision is Final
How you initially approach the subject of the divorce with your kids is extremely important. First of all, if you and your spouse are at odds and you are just thinking about getting a divorce, do not bring that up to your children. You do not want your kids to be worried and stressed about something that may or may not happen. Wait until you and your spouse have made a final decision that your differences are irreconcilable before making the announcement.
Make a Plan to Tell the Children Together
When you have finally decided that you are getting a divorce, plan to explain this to your children with your spouse, not separately. Do this without blaming the other parent and reassure your kids that it is not in any way their fault. Also, be sure to let them know that, even though Mom and Dad won’t be together anymore, you are still going to work together to do what is best for them no matter what else happens.
Keep Your Children Out of Disputes with Your Ex
As the divorce process ensues, you will most likely have disputes with your ex about various issues. These arguments can sometimes dredge up hard feelings and lead to each side hurling insults and accusations at each other. When kids see their parents quarreling, it increases their stress and anxiety, which can result in other consequences. And the last thing most children want to do is to take sides in a dispute between their parents. Heated discussions are a part of life and they will occur at times. Do your best to keep your children out of them.
Consider Mediation to Settle Your Divorce
Divorce can be costly in terms of time, money, and emotions. This is especially true if you opt for traditional litigation. A court case is by its very nature adversarial, and battles over child-related issues such as custody and parenting plans can inflict lasting emotional damage on everyone involved. If you and your spouse are committed to putting the interests of your children above all else, consider an alternative way to settle your divorce.
Mediation is a collaborative process that is designed to bring parties together to settle their differences amicably. The process is facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator whose job is to identify the underlying issues and guide the discussion toward a peaceful and workable resolution. Mediation can save divorcing couples time and significant amounts of money in legal fees. But most importantly, the process encourages cooperation among participants, which reduces stress and anxiety and helps kids cope with the divorce in a healthier way.
Discernment Counseling was founded by Bill Doherty, a therapist who has expertise in relationship counseling. The actual word “discernment” is defined as have the ability to judge a situation in a well and educated manner. Discernment counseling is aimed at helping couples look at their relationship on a deeper level, through the guidance of a seasoned, clinically licensed counselor. The goals of counseling are: a comprehensive examination of your relationship and challenges you are having, clarity regarding what path to take in your relationship, and confidence, as well as support as you move forward.
What exactly happens in discernment counseling? Here is a brief overview of what may happen in your first sessions during this process. The therapist meets with the couple together, utilizing specific tools to help determine dynamics of the relationship. Each partner then meets with the counselor alone. The therapist then assists each partner in examining their perspective on the challenges they are having in the relationship, how they may each contribute to the difficulties, and then what path they feel is appropriate for the relationship at the current time.
Lastly, the therapist meets with the couple, discusses the information given and then clarifies with each partner on the path they would like to take. As per the discernment counseling model, there are three paths. The first path is keeping the marriage as it has been. The second path is separation or divorce. The third path is a 6 month commitment to couples therapy, where divorce is not pursued.
Obviously, the above techniques used in discernment counseling may bring up many dynamics that need to be explored on a deeper level. Most commonly, a specific dynamic may be that one partner wants to work on the relationship and the other partner does not see a future. Another dynamic may be one partner is not sure of what path to pursue.
Discernment counseling is an excellent approach to utilize before seeking legal assistance. Why? Discernment counseling gives you a chance to take a different look at your relationship, utilizing a clinically licensed counselor to guide you in making better choices.
This blog was written by a guest blogger & colleague of Roseann Vanella,Professional Mediator, Collen Brigid Fitzpatrick, MSW, LCSW of Instrumental Change, LLC.
The recent news about children being separated from their parents at the southern border got me thinking about how this often occurs in divorce situations as well. As a divorce mediator, I’ve seen many cases in which parents begin living separately well in advance of the divorce proceedings. This can be problematic for the children, especially when the parents fail to work out a visitation schedule ahead of time. (more…)