The A-Z of Mediation: Jokes

Posted on: September 25th, 2023

Jokes and banter in the workplace are by no means a bad thing. After all, getting to know the people around you can often bring people out of their shells, promote collaboration, and even boost productivity.

As with just about anything, however, there is a fine balance between the good and the bad. In some cases, these jokes can go too far or have an underlying motive, and can be deemed as bullying. The banter may become repetitive, hurtful, or intentional, and may involve a power imbalance that simply makes it unfair.

Workplace bullying and harassment continues to feature in the news too, with many organisations finding themselves under the spotlight for toxic work cultures. The negative side-effects are undeniable at this point too, with poor morale, higher staff turnover, and decreased productivity all common in workplaces that suffer from these issues.

Not only that, the financial impact is huge. A 2021 ACAS study reported that dealing with conflict and bullying costs UK businesses a staggering £28.5 billion a year [1], with figures expected to continue rising.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that many HR departments have turned towards alternative dispute resolution and, more specifically, mediation.

Here at UK Mediation, we see many cases that revolve around bullying and/or harassment. More often than not, the 'quiet words' and facilitated conversations have already taken place, all to no avail.

Our aim throughout cases like these is to help participants to develop some insight and awareness into how they act and how that might affect people around them. From there, we can then invite them to change that behaviour, if necessary.

At the end of the day, workplace banter can help to build a positive and inclusive working environment. However, when jokes go too far, mediation can help to nip things in the bud before things gets out of hand.