Informal. Independent. Impartial. Confidential.
What is an External Organizational Ombuds?
PRISM Organizational Ombuds are a resource for employees at all levels of an organization. Employees can visit the Ombuds to informally raise concerns about challenging workplace behaviors and other issues, then get support to address them. Many organizations find that working with an external ombuds leads to improved morale, increased employee retention, and fewer time-consuming complaints and lawsuits.
Four guiding principles set our Ombuds Services apart from other resources within an organization.
Informality. Organizational Ombuds are a resource that employees can use to surface workplace issues and concerns without setting formal processes in motion. Once an issue is identified, an Ombuds can help employees develop strategies for raising concerns and resolving conflicts informally.
Independence. PRISM Ombuds operate independently. While we report to the highest possible level of the organization, we are not part of the leadership team, and we are not responsible for management and strategic decisions for the organization. We do not make policy decisions, conduct investigations, or participate in disciplinary processes.
Impartiality. The PRISM Ombuds serve as impartial, neutral, and unbiased resources. We do not advocate for any party or parties, but rather provide a forum for a fair process to assist visitors in identifying goals and addressing and resolving concerns and conflicts. We facilitate communication, problem-solving and the identification of options to address or resolve issues and concerns.
Confidentiality. The identity of individual visitors is held in strict confidence. We share themes, trends, and data with leadership in a way that protects the identity of the visitor(s) and the confidentiality of the communications.
How Will Hiring an External Ombuds Help Your Organization?
Employees get a sounding board that they trust.
As External Ombuds, we are not employees of the organization. We are a neutral and impartial resources, free from competing responsibilities and organizational demands. Our presence creates a “safe space” for raising concerns where visitors can feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information without fear of retribution or retaliation.
When an employee visits the ombuds, we listen to their concerns, help them sort and frame the issues they’ve presented, and help them develop options to address their concerns. The options we present may include facilitated conversations, mediation, or directing the employee to formal resources within the organization, if appropriate. Throughout the process, we coach our visitors on how to articulate their concerns.
Leadership gets an early warning system for organizational issues.
Candid conversations with our visitors allow us to “take the pulse” of the organization. While we keep individual information in strict confidence, we can give management our observations on general feedback patterns that could indicate emerging workplace issues. Then, we can work with leadership to develop systemic changes that improve the workplace experience.
THE PRISM DIFFERENCE
Our ombuds practitioners are trained by the International Ombuds Association (IOA) and have decades of experience resolving conflict informally. As mediators, conflict coaches, and workplace conflict management consultants, the PRISM Ombuds team has extensive experience supporting clients in addressing workplace challenges through a variety of tools and processes.
We recognize that every individual brings unique life experiences to any situation. Our goal is to support each visitor in identifying options that best meet their needs and comfort levels in a confidential, supportive environment. Learning about a broad range of options can empower those who seek our services. Over time, our work moves an organization towards a more engaged and inclusive environment.
Offering a safe space for employees to raise concerns encourages a proactive approach to organizational challenges. Our goal is to address concerns before they escalate to a point where more formal channels are necessary. Over time, having an ombuds service available can improve your workplace culture and your staff’s ability to overcome adversity at work.
Learn more about Ombuds Services from the IOA, including how they can help organizations and individuals and what they can and can’t do.