“The existence of conflict in intercultural teams is almost inevitable”

Declan Mulkeen

Chief of Strategy, MRC

Intercultural mediation is an essential skill for each employer managing an international and intercultural workforce. The large influx of migrants in Europe needs to be effectively integrated and one aspect of integration is employment. Research has shown that employees in a positive work environment are more effective in their work and perform better (Jeffrey Fermin, www.business.com). Therefore, successful mediation within an intercultural workforce context could improve the company’s productivity and thus their bottom line.

However, research in the partner countries of the project has shown that conflict at work is highly present, but the amount of managers with mediation training is low. The more efficient an employer is to integrate a migrant in the workplace, the more successfully a migrant integrates into society and can thus contribute to the economy. This makes intercultural mediation a crucial skill for managers to have in order to maximise talent in the workplace across Europe and improve the image of migrants within communities.

InterMED is aimed at managers of SMEs who:
a) are currently managing an intercultural workforce
b) are about to recruit migrants and want to successfully integrate them in the workplace
c) are currently not managing an intercultural workforce and need more information about the business case of diversity in the workplace.

InterMED will aim to:
– Develop and increase mediation skills amongst managers to apply in an intercultural workplace context.
– Support managers to maximise the talent of their migrant employees through recruitment, retention and progression strategies
– Provide an innovative and holistic training based on role play, conflict resolution and self-reflection to improve soft skills
– Provide a business case for diversity in the workplace in order to encourage more managers to recruit migrants and celebrate diversity.

InterMED aims to train managers in intercultural mediation across Belgium, UK, Poland, Italy and Portugal (at least 20 per country) to integrate migrants successfully in the workplace by transferring overall mediation skills to an intercultural context. Managers will assist their employees in respecting and understanding different cultural demeanours in order to keep a calm and productive atmosphere at work. They will also be able to better understand strategies to recruit, retain and help migrants progress in organisations. Furthermore, managers representing each partner country will attend an international event to learn more about mediation in an intercultural context and apply the knowledge acquired through the national training programme.

The project also fulfills the need to combat isolation and segregation of migrants by integrating them successfully into society through employment. Intercultural Mediation SKills for Managers differs from other training targeting migrant employability which has been mainly focused on the skills of migrants. That migrant-focused approach is important, but lacks the understanding that the most successful aspect of integrating a migrant in the workplace means mediation between two (work) cultures and is not based on the effort from the migrant only.