Air France is flying to new heights, thanks to alternative methods of dispute resolution. The company turned to mediation following the introduction of the Macron Law of 2015, which provided the company the opportunity to step away from their culture of lawsuits.
Before they adopted mediation as a company policy for settling conflict, Air France was constantly in court with its employees. This was mostly due to the simple fact that the company culture supported litigation as a means of resolving any kind of conflict. One example provided is of a lawsuit that lasted for five years over a €50 per month bonus.
Unnecessary lawsuits can cost participants a lot of money and time, plus they don’t necessarily dive into the deeper issues driving the conflict. For example, take the €50 per month bonus case. Half a decade of meetings in court and money spent to resolve this issue, and we would guess that the core issue that was causing this conflict was never even addressed.
With mediation, both parties could have been given the chance to both listen and be heard, and there’s a good chance the mediator could have guided the parties towards a mutual acceptance, or at least understanding. This could have probably been done in a few sessions; certainly less than five years.
Mediation can be good for uncovering hidden motivations and personal needs that are not being met. This is vital to resolving conflict because no amount of settlement money can fix a core issue of, for example, an employee’s need for safety or belonging not being met at the company that was showing up as something else; something that could be taken to court.
Is It Working?
Air France’s director of legal affairs is feeling positive about meditation’s impact on the company culture. Out of the first 50 mediations that have taken place, 48 ended in an agreement, which is promising statistics, especially at the beginning of a new process (and culture shift). Since then, 70 additional requests for mediation have been accepted.
Not All Bad
On top of a hopefully positive shift in the company culture at Air France (one that focuses more on cooperation and less on lawsuits), we hope that the mediations give the company the chance to benefit from the positive aspects of conflict. Read here to find out more about how things like a spark in innovation and strengthened employee bonds can result from successfully navigating conflict.