I recently discovered a brief news article about the Maxwell Air Force Base ADR program. This story correctly points out that it can take an inordinate amount of time to have a dispute resolved through normal EEO/EEOC channels, where an investigation rarely resolves in less than six months and often stretches up to and beyond a year. Obviously litigation is substantially longer. Yet the Maxwell program typically resolves employee disputes within 40 days.
Employees typically just want a venue to vent and feel like they have been heard and their opinions respected. Mediation provides for that platform, especially when the person presiding over the mediation is truly viewed as a neutral third-party with no vested income in the outcome (outside of hopeful settlement of course). This neutrality is perceived to not exist in traditional routes such as going to HR or through the "open door". However, when the process is led by an external, or possibly even an internal, person without a reporting relationship to or ability to be influenced by any of the relevant parties, resolution of the dispute is highly probable.
Check out my earlier post on Ombudsperson programs for more insight.