With different projects, teams, management styles, and other factors at play, disputes in the workplace are bound to happen—even when working from home. Alternative dispute resolution or ADR can help to resolve these conflicts, potentially without the need for court appearances. There are many different ways both small businesses and large corporations can benefit from these techniques. While ADR may not work for every conflict that occurs, it is often a favorable option – and an increasingly available option during the current pandemic.
Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADR typically offers a less formal or intimidating environment within which to resolve workplace disputes. Parties are able to work together with a neutral individual or panel to come to a decision resolving the issues in conflict for those involved. Having a good understanding of the problem at hand will inform the decision as to which method is best suited for your situation. The two most commonly used methods of alternative dispute resolution include:
- Mediation: A mediator works with all parties to come up with a negotiated resolution. A mediator is a trained facilitator who understands negotiation techniques, human dynamics, and effective listening. The mediator will offer expert advice and ideas for creative options for solutions to the problem, but the ultimate decisions are left up to the parties.
- Arbitration: One or more arbitrators can hear from all parties and render either a binding or non-binding resolution decision. All parties must sign an agreement to abide by the arbitrator’s decision. In many cases, a panel of three – mutually agreed to by all parties – is used instead of a single arbitrator.
The Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution
There are many benefits for businesses that use ADR instead of focusing solely on litigation. ADR allows the parties involved to come to a ‘win-win’ resolution that considers everyone’s position; rather than one in court, where often one party prevails over another. These outcomes are often considered to be practical, flexible, and adaptable.
Some of the most significant benefits of utilizing ADR include:
- Less costly
- Takes less time than going through the court system
- Less disruptive to the business and/or its ongoing operations
- Gives those involved at least some control over the situation and final result
- Decisions are focused on compromise rather than ‘winning’
- Typically results in a more concrete decision, as people are more willing to stick to a decision they make themselves
- Can result in a less severe outcome
- Helps keep business relationships intact by attempting to satisfy both parties
- Helps parties deal with the dispute constructively
Is ADR Right For Your Business?
While using ADR in the workplace can help your organization avoid drawn-out and expensive litigation and help improve a tense work environment, it’s not necessarily appropriate for all situations. In order for ADR to work effectively, all parties must be willing to actively participate and stick with the decision. Having the assistance of an experienced business attorney helps with your conflict resolution needs.
Disputes of varying degrees are bound to happen in any workplace, regardless of if you’re working from home or in the office. At Feldman & Feldman, we know the courtroom isn’t the ideal starting point for every dispute; and, our lawyers regularly counsel clients through informal negotiations and/or formal alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation when appropriate. If you are involved in a business dispute and would like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.