Facilitation in the workplace

Being properly ‘heard’ is usually just as important to people as the actual outcome of a decision-making process.

Facilitation is a process to help a group of people have their say and reach their own decision. A facilitator is a skilled, neutral person who guides members through the process.

Difference between facilitation and mediation

Mediation usually involves disputes between individuals or an individual and an organisation.

In contrast, facilitation usually involves large-scale disputes with several parties, an organisation, a department or an entire community.

Facilitation can also help manage a situation to prevent future disputes. Organisations may use facilitation if they are discussing major changes and need a neutral facilitator to guide the discussion.

Read more about mediation in the workplace.

Situations suitable for facilitation

Facilitation is useful for:

  • environmental disputes involving government authorities, conservationists and industry representatives
  • workplace planning
  • meetings between agencies
  • policy consultations between the government and community or special-interest groups.

Generally, there’s a fee for this service. To find out more, contact your local  Dispute Resolution Centre.

Benefits of facilitation

Facilitation can:

  • increase the chance that all voices will be heard
  • reduce manipulation, bragging or bullying
  • enable everyone to hear about the costs and benefits of alternatives and the interests to be considered
  • increase the likelihood that the outcome will be acceptable and decisions will be implemented.

For managers and other decision-makers, facilitation can:

  • demonstrate a commitment to a more open and consultative decision-making process
  • build goodwill
  • enhance the credibility of the agency that arranged the facilitation
  • strengthen stakeholder commitment to the process
  • free the manager or agency to participate in content discussions and decisions with the group
  • increase the chance that participants will feel satisfied with the procedures used to reach the outcome.


The people involved decide on the degree of confidentiality. When large groups of people and public issues are involved, complete confidentiality may not be possible.

However, facilitators take an oath not to discuss the issues or the facilitation with anyone.

Arranging facilitation

To get a facilitator’s help, one party contacts the Dispute Resolution Centre.

The facilitator starts by designing a process to help all interested parties establish a common goal and work constructively towards it. Then they guide the participants through the process.

If you have a dispute that might be suitable for facilitation, contact your local Dispute Resolution Centre to discuss your situation.