Move into mediation
WORKPLACE conflict is creating jobs and increasing demand for qualified postgraduate mediators across the nation.
Far from being just a matter of dealing with a few square pegs in round holes, workplace conflict can be costly and lead to absenteeism, a decrease in productivity and potential litigation, experts say.
Government, private and public businesses are increasingly embracing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a cheaper way of solving and preventing workplace conflict.
ADR is fast becoming a growth market and a popular option for those looking to develop their existing skill set through post-graduate study.
Employment in the field is expected to grow as mediation companies expand their busi- ness and new graduates enter the field.
University of South Australia’s mediation and conflict resolution program director Clare Swetenham says the combination of Australia’s tight economic climate, the rising cost of litigation and government-imposed mandatory schemes makes ADR more appealing to businesses.
She says they realise workplace mediation is less of a risk to reputation and are more aware of mediation options.
‘‘ It’s also cheaper, faster, more flexible and less confrontational than going to court,’’ Swetenham says.
She says because managers can find it difficult to deal with conflict or are inadequately equipped to do so, qualified mediators are in demand locally and internationally.
University of South Australia mediation graduate Judith Burnell left a role in the education field to enhance her conflict-management skills through post-graduate study.
Burnell, who is a workplace mediator for Access Programs, says mediation is a handy addition for psychologists or human relations workers.
‘‘ The principles of mediation, conflict resolution and how conflict develops can be transferred to just about any workplace and personal relationships . . . so you can use them in any job,’’ Burnell says.
‘‘ Conflict in workplaces can cause lack of productivity and . . . bad behaviours in workplaces can affect relationships and cause colleagues to feel they’re walking on eggshells around those involved.’’
PORTABLE SKILLS: UniSA graduate Judith Burnell works as a mediator.