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Workplace mediation has been identified as a core skill, ahead even of medical knowledge, for practitioners responsible for coordinating return-to-work programmes (Shaw et al., 2008). Waddell and Burton (2004) state that a lack of communication between the worker, health professional and employer ‘is one of the most commonly identified obstacles to rehabilitation and return to work and it is also likely to compound other obstacles’. This course from The At Work Partnership is designed to provide OH professionals with the requisite knowledge and practical mediation skills that they can use in their everyday practice.

The course will enable you to:

  • Understand the process, principles and benefits of mediation
  • Practise the core skills and strategies used by mediators
  • Use mediation skills to help manage sickness absence
  • Incorporate mediation skills and strategies into your everyday working practice

The mediation skills learnt will be of great value to OH professionals and to their organisations. Improved communication and listening skills will result in more effective management of both one-to-one consultations and interviews with clients/patients, and of group meetings and case conferences. These skills should also prove of particular benefit in absence management cases, where relationship or communication problems are leading to absence or hampering a return to work. The knowledge and skills learnt will be useful in helping to restore working relationships, resulting in long-term benefits to the organisation.

Sample Programme

Day 1

The first day provides a general introduction to the principles, processes and practice of mediation and an opportunity to see mediation in action.

Topics covered include:

  • Understanding conflict – the causes of conflict, how we react to conflict and how conflict escalates
  • The wider context for mediation
  • Understanding mediation – the process and the core principles and the relevance of these to your daily OH work
  • A demonstration of mediation in action

At the end of Day One, you will be able to:

  • Recognise the early warning signs of conflict and understand how and why people react as they do
  • Understand how the use of the mediation process and principles might apply in your role at work
  • Identify the core skills that mediators use
  • Describe the difference between a ‘traditional’ and a ‘mediated’ approach to a client/patient interview

Day 2

The second day looks in detail at the communication skills and strategies that mediators use and provides the opportunity for you to practise these skills using OH specific case scenarios.

Topics covered include:

  • Communication skills: active listening; rapport building; non-verbal communication; empathy
  • Advanced communication skills: reframing; dealing with emotion
  • Getting to the root of the problem
  • Impartiality and overcoming prejudice
  • Facilitation, negotiation and influencing skills

By the end of Day Two, you will have practised a range of communication skills, in order to:

  • Understand how to help clients move from entrenched positions
  • Remain impartial and understand the benefits of doing so
  • Help others to identify and clarify for themselves the ‘real‘ problemand how best they can go about resolving it

Day 3

The final day of the course looks at strategies and techniques for problem solving and examines how mediation techniques can be used when managing group meetings (eg. case management meetings).

Topics covered include:

  • Techniques for joint problem solving
  • Mediation skills, principles and process in joint meetings
  • Mediation do’s and don’ts
  • When referral to formal mediation might be appropriate

By the end of Day Three, you will be able to:

  • Understand principled negotiation and know how to encourage a collaborative approach to problem solving
  • Apply mediation techniques to an OH case management conference
  • Understand how to assess whether external mediation intervention may be appropriate