If someone at your office comes to work every day with a resentment against their supervisor, do they have a private way of communicating that? If two colleagues start working against one another, can their manager speak to someone about how to repair their relationship without creating a record? If you have an awkward situation going on at home which is affecting your work, is there someone at work you speak with who you feel safe with?
If the answer to any of these is “no,” you might consider creating a Conflict Resolution Office, known in the field of dispute resolution as an Office of the Ombudsperson.
According the International Association of Ombudsmen, organizations with an ombudsperson office commonly cite the following benefits of the service:
• Offers a safe place for members of the workforce to discuss concerns and understand their options without fear of retaliation or fear that formal action will be taken simply by raising concerns.
• Helps identify undetected and/or unreported criminal or unethical behavior, policy violations, or ineffective leadership.
• Helps employees become empowered and take responsibility for creating a better workplace.
• Facilitates two-way, informal communication and dispute resolution to resolve allegations of harassment, discrimination and other workplace issues that could otherwise escalate into time-consuming and expensive formal complaints or lawsuits.
• Provides the ability to address subtle forms of insensitivity and unfairness that do not rise to the level of a formal complaint but nonetheless create a disempowering work environment.
• Aids compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the U.S. Federal sentencing guidelines.
• Provides an early warning diagnosis system that identifies and alerts institutions about new negative trends.
• Helps employee satisfaction, morale and retention by humanizing the institution through the establishment of a resource that provides safe and informal opportunities to be heard.
• Provides conflict resolution skills training.
• Provides upward feedback to management about organizational trends.
• Helps avoid negative press by addressing issues at the lowest and most direct level possible.
• Provides the organization with an independent and impartial voice, which fosters consistency between organizational values and actions.
• Serves as a central information and referral resource for policies, processes and resources within the organization.