We believe that most companies are led and managed in an honorable and ethical way; and would like to be perceived as such. Yet sometimes employees perceive the organization to be uncaring except to shareholders and the bottom line. When employees perceive the leadership and management echelons as being uncaring—thus unapproachable—it can cause an undercurrent of problems, and often without the knowledge of the leadership. This renders them unable to solve problems that may impact the morale and welfare of their people and organization.
As such, Humadyn offers an External Ombudsman Program (EOP) to help companies with early identification of problems. Further, it’s a way of allowing employees to deal with their grievances in a safe and confidential way. By providing an external ombudsman program, companies can also better demonstrate their commitment to good corporate governance, transparency, and concern for their people.
What is an ombudsman? An ombudsman is a neutral and impartial person who offers confidentiality and helps solve people problems and work related concerns within organizations.
An external ombudsman is [such as with Humadyn] contracted by the company in order to offer employees a way to raise concerns or to complain about how they have been treated by other employees, their supervisor or by the system generally.
As a neutral third party, the ombudsman is neither an advocate for the employee nor management. The ombudsman provides a safe, confidential option outside of formal reporting channels. The ombudsman is available to all company employees of any classification, including administrative staff, hourly employees, directors, managers, supervisors, and department heads.
The ombudsman’s role includes listening, counseling, coaching, facilitating groups, mediating, fact-finding, general organizational consulting, and problem solving. Further, the ombudsman provides general feedback and consulting to senior management.
What is the Humadyn’s External Ombudsman Program?
Humadyn offers a process that allows organizations to provide a proactive, confidential service that gives their employees the ability to escalate their concerns without fear or concern about retribution. More, we help with early identification of individual and workplace problems that can turn into union grievances or become entry points for unionization.
What are the benefits of using an external ombudsman program? In a 2013 Organizational Integrity study, KPMG found that “management is perceived as unable or unwilling to deal with unethical conduct.” Only forty-three percent of employees believe their CEOs and other senior management know what types of behavior goes on in the company, and only forty-five percent of employees believe that management is approachable with bad news.
This underscores the benefit of having programs in place that fosters early identification and timely resolution of problems within organizations. An external ombudsman program can mitigate these concerns; thus saving valuable time, resources and legal costs. Other benefits include:
- Provides a benefit to your employees that can result in less turnover, higher morale and teamwork, and an overall happier and more productive workforce.
- Relieves ER/HR from the conflict of handling confidential information while maintaining employee records.
- Reduction in time spent resolving conflict–gets people back to work quicker.
- Brand protection
What are the key features and tenets to this program? This program and process allows an employee of a participating company to communicate his or her concern to a Humadyn ombudsman through e-mail, telephone, fax, or in person. If the employee gives permission, the ombudsman then can look into the concern and can take a variety of actions to resolve the concern. Again, action is only taken with the employees permission; unless there is a genuine threat of physical harm or criminal activity. No report will be written and confidentially is a key tenet. The following are some of the typical key tenets of Humadyn Ombudsman program:
Humadyn Ombudsman program:
- Assures that employees can raise concerns in confidence and without fear of retribution.
- Advocates for a fair process and not for the complainant or organization.
- Ensures “concerns” are suitably investigated and resolved.
- Resolves issues informally (no reports or formal processes) and at the lowest level possible.
- Has access to all levels of the leadership/management for resolving problems.
What is the confidentiality factor of the ombudsman program? Confidentiality is one of the critical factors of an effective ombudsman program. The ombudsman uses good judgment to decide how and where the information can be shared—again given permission has been granted by the complainant. The ombudsman and others who are aware of it cannot make the matter public without the consent of the complainant. Further, the company must assure that concerns raised will not be discussed with anybody who is not associated with the complaint.
How is the ombudsman program implemented? Once an agreement is made by Humadyn and the organization, Humadyn provides several forums, both formal and informal, where employees can voice their concerns and receive redress. We begin the process by creating awareness and encouraging employees to speak up and use the program. The employees then have access to a secure, members only website where they can will have options in terms of voicing their grievance including, anonymous web form, email, phone, or fax. Further, a face-to-face meeting can also be arranged at a neutral location.
What type of concerns can be raised to the ombudsman? The nature of concerns raised by employees can be a wide-range of issues. The following are a few:
- Perceived discrimination, retaliation and/or harassment on any basis such as race, national origin, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or any other status or activity which is protected by law.
- Disagreement with how company policies, practices, or rules have been applied.
- Personality conflicts that affect job performance.
- Disciplinary action or job termination that is perceived to be unfair.
- An actual or threatened violation of company’s policies regarding antitrust, confidentiality, or conflict of interest.
- Any other job-related concern, issue, or dispute.
What type of concerns cannot be raised to the ombudsman? The program does not cover claims for workers’ compensation or unemployment benefits, or disputes that challenge company’s authority to make business decisions, or develop and implement policies affecting employment.
Do the ombudsman take care of external concerns (i.e., by customers and vendors)? Yes, organizations can choose to include this feature. While most companies have processes and procedures to deal customer and vendor concerns, Humadyn Ombudsman is an effective way of getting customers to provide feedback and grievances to the company.