To Mediate or Not to Mediate: A Critical Assessment of the Viability of Mediation as a Tool to Solve Workplace Bullying

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A modern crisis, workplace bullying damages the emotional well-being of individuals and costs employers millions in lost productivity. There is an existing question as to whether mediation should be used to solve workplace bullying disputes. The primary aims and objectives of this research study are to evaluate mediation’s effectiveness in resolving workplace bullying disputes, comment on whether mediation should be used at all in the workplace bullying context, and make subsequent recommendations to employers, workplace bullying victims, and society in general. To achieve these aims and objectives, this study utilizes a qualitative research approach focused on a combination of survey questionnaires. Distributed to the population at-large, the survey captures the population’s general feelings and perceptions toward mediation in the context of workplace bullying. The results of the survey demonstrated that there is a higher rate of workplace bullying in Ireland than expected. In principle, most victims are willing to negotiate face-to-face with a workplace bully but feel that they would be at a disadvantage—or in a vulnerable position. In addition, a majority of workers would prefer mediation to litigation as a dispute resolution mechanism, citing the overall hassle, time, and expense of litigation. Finally, the survey results revealed a lack of corporate promotion of antibullying policies and the lack of employers building an anti-bullying culture. The main conclusion from this research project is that mediation has an important role to play in resolving workplace bullying disputes. However, corporations must promote an anti-bullying culture more vigorously to prevent workplace bullying. The application of mediation should operate on a “sliding-scale” mechanism: Mediation should be used to resolve workplace bullying disputes where there is not severe abuse or potential for further abuse. Mediation should apply to more moderate workplace bullying cases. Overall, this mechanism, as well as more strict corporate policies, would reduce and resolve workplace bullying.