Four out of five industrial disputes have been resolved with the help of the conciliation service Acas in the past year, according to a new report.
A study found that most disputes would have dragged on for months without the help of Acas.
Employment relations were improved and communication between staff and employers was boosted following the intervention of the service, research showed.
Acas chief conciliator Peter Harwood said: "These findings show how our experienced network of conciliators play a vital role in resolving industrial disputes quickly and how we have helped employers to implement more productive working practices.
"There is often a misconception that Acas can only be called in when a dispute arises but we can be asked to be informally involved on a confidential basis at any stage of negotiations even when internal procedures have not been exhausted.
"I would encourage employers and unions to come to us for help as early as possible rather than see us as just a last-chance saloon."
Acas was called in to help resolve almost 1,000 disputes in the last financial year.