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Fire Fire, Fire Fire! Fetch the engines – pour on water

We get the call… fire fire, fire fire!
Please help – there’s a relationship breakdown requiring emergency intervention.

Whilst mediation is a brilliant means of resolving disputes in the workplace, we should be asking, what lies behind the need for mediation? When two adults in a place of work are not able to talk with each other and resolve differences or misunderstandings, then something is wrong:

  • It could be the organisational culture is averse to addressing conflict and would rather turn away.
  • It could be a weak HR department not leading the strategic management of conflict.
  • It could be the management style maintains silos, hierarchic divisions and cliques.
  • It could be the individuals are not able to have a ‘courageous conversation’ and speak with each other about their workplace relationships.

One way of another you’ve ended up with a deteriorating situation that has reached crisis point: ‘fetch the engines – pour on water!’

Becoming fire resistant

How wonderful it would be if an organisational culture could exist where individuals acknowledge their differences, benefit from the creativity healthy conflict can bring, and show one another compassion and understanding. What steps would we need to take?

  • set a culture of respect
  • develop leadership from the top
  • create value driven behaviour frameworks
  • up-skill employees to be more self-aware
  • create a culture of feedback on personal working relationships
  • embed diversity and, more importantly, the inclusion of everyone
  • encourage courageous conversations to receive and give feedback
  • develop policies to underpin requirements that are known about and understood

The path to fire resistance may be a challenge and take time, but the rewards will touch all aspects of the organisation creating a happier workplace for everyone; and a happier workplace is a more efficient and productive workplace.

Never fire-proof

Employee friction and conflict is inevitable, and fires will start – but there is much that organisations can do to lessen the ‘999’ calls for a mediator.

STILLHR can be your ‘4th emergency service.’ We can not only send in the fire engine to dampen down the flames of employee conflict, but we can also help put in place a cost effective ‘sprinkler system’ to stop any sparks of conflict turning into an HR inferno!

To learn more about STILLHR’s responsive services call Robert Still for an initial informal confidential chat on 07932 762448.

By Robert Still FCIPD of STILLHR

Robert Still - STILLHR

Workplace mediation in the post-Weinstein world

A surge in requests for workplace mediation  

The revelations and accusations of sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond against Harvey Weinstein and others have seen a tide of allegations that have rippled around the globe. As more women, and men, stepped forward to make allegations, the actress Alyssa Milano asked victims of sexual assault to come forward in a show of solidarity using #MeToo 

The term gained rapid momentum Twitter confirmed to CBS News on 24 October that over 1.7 million tweets included the hashtag “#MeToo,” with 85 countries that had at least 1,000 #MeToo tweets. Facebook released statistics showing that there were more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions regarding “Me Too” in less than 24 hours, by 4.7 million users around the world.  

Allegations were being made in many areas including the theatre, politics as well as more traditional workplaces. The BBC has said it is dealing with a “spike” in complaints of sexual harassment. Anne Bulford, Deputy Director, told MPs the corporation is currently investigating 25 individuals for alleged sexual harassment, where last year only three cases were investigated. 

At STILLHR we have seen a surge in requests from organisations to support them in resolving allegations from staff emboldened by an atmosphere, in part fuelled by the media, to challenge behaviour they deemed to be unacceptable in the workplace. 

Inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment?  

Whether a hand on the knee is inappropriate, let alone sexual harassment, will depend on a variety of factors, most importantly purpose but also context, frequency and response. Harassment as defined in the Equality Act 2010 is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.” Harassment of a sexual nature is one of the most common forms, specifically outlawed as it relates to a relevant protected characteristic. 

Mediation can be a powerful and effective option, when appropriate 

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour which could constitute sexual harassment need careful deliberation as to whether mediation is an appropriate course of action to facilitate possible resolution. One first needs to determine whether the allegation is of a sufficiently serious nature that a formal complaint and investigation is more appropriate.  

Mediation can be better suited when both parties can see and acknowledge the breakdown in the working relationship and voluntarily seek a means to improve and find resolution. In the case of a one-way allegation (i.e. one that is not acknowledged or accepted by the other person) the accused is often left with what can appear to be limited choices – mediation or a formal investigation. In all cases the employer must take care of both the accuser and accused. 

“No harm intended”  

Where behaviour unintended to cause offense has resulted in discomfort and conflict, the process of mediation can be healing and reassuring. Mediation enables voices to be heard, explanations to be made, misunderstandings to be corrected leading to agreed changes going forward to create a better working relationship. 

The tried and tested conflict resolution and mediation techniques can help save working relationships and avoid the massive distraction, emotional upheaval, lost time and distress which comes from resolving formal allegations. 


To learn more about STILLHR’s sensitive and effective approach, call Robert Still for an initial informal confidential chat on 07932 762 448.

By Robert Still FCIPD of STILLHR


Robert Still - STILLHR

Investing in Mental Health in the Workplace Has Many Benefits

By Robert Still and Liz Katis of STILLHR


We know how high the financial cost of conflict in the workplace can be but it also has a big impact on mental health. Both the individuals directly involved and staff across the organisation feel the stress and anxiety of unresolved differences.

The effect of not facing the difficult conversation, of not dealing with long or short term strains or silences ratchets up the tension and the results can be explosive and the organisation sees the results in declining efficiency and efficacy which is reflected in the bottom line. Causes of conflict are many and varied, ranging from persistent tensions in teams due to differences in performance or attendance, to personal habits, to the effects of organisational change.


At STILLHR we have developed a bespoke diagnostic service which looks for causes of conflict and recommends the best resolution tools. This can include not only mediation (when we feel it is the appropriate solution) but also varied mental health techniques. This flexible approach is delivered by a team of four associates led by Robert Still, the founder and director, which means we can offer a broad range of interventions in a tailored package which targets the specific issues to produce the most cost effective results.


STILLHR specialise in the mental health implications of conflict – our associate, Liz Katis, is a UKCP registered psychotherapist with 25 years experience in the NHS and the workplace. She specialises in workplace relationships and organisational issues. For tricky or persistent conflicts we can offer a ‘Mediation Plus’ intervention – this includes up to three individual workplace support sessions for each individual followed by the traditional day mediation session. This replaces the one-day ‘quick fix’ mediation which often does not result in a lasting agreement. Using this approach, resolutions and voluntary agreements are more likely to be reached and be longer lasting.

‘Mediation Plus’ is particularly appropriate for key ‘mission critical’ staff who are more vital to the organisation’s continued success and, consequently, require more investment to ensure their continued maximum effectiveness.


This year we are introducing a ‘Mental Health First Aid’ package for organisations that want to improve their support for mental health in the workplace. This is based on the accepted premise that prevention is better – and cheaper – than cure.

We can train groups of Mental Health First Aiders who will be registered with Mental Health First Aid England, and create a bespoke package for the organisation.  As part of the package we also offer research into the current state of staff mental health in the organisation and tailor the introduction of first aiders according to the research results.


Underpinned by careful diagnosis and targeted intervention our clients achieve excellent results. Along with our other innovative and effective solutions such as ‘Courageous Conversations’, ‘Showing Respect in the Workplace’, ‘Managing Sickness Absence’ together with our standard mediation services, STILLHR, with bases in London and Yorkshire, are successfully helping organisations of all types all over the UK to create happier workplaces.


To learn more about STILLHR’s unique approach, call Robert Still for an initial informal chat on 07932 762 448.

Investing in Mental Health in the Workplace - STILLHR

Investing in Mental Health in the Workplace - STILLHR

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