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Frequently Asked Questions

Ombudsology is all about educating you on all things Ombuds.  So, here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions I receive. Want to ask your burning specific burning question and get a custom response?  Book an Ask Me Anything call!

According to the International Ombuds Association, an organizational Ombuds is defined as,

'A corporate ombuds is an individual who serves as a designated neutral within a specific organization and provides conflict resolution and problem-solving services to members of the organization.'

A corporate ombuds provides confidential, informal, independent and impartial assistance to individuals through dispute resolution and problem-solving methods such as conflict coaching, mediation, facilitation, and shuttle diplomacy. The organizational ombuds responds to concerns and disputes brought forward by visitors to the office and may convey trends, systemic problems, and organizational issues to high-level leaders and executives in a confidential manner. Ombuds do not advocate for individuals, groups or entities, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity. The organizational ombuds does not play a role in formal processes, investigate problems brought to the office’s attention, or represent any side in a dispute.

These are the formal definitions. I think of a corporate Ombuds in a few different ways. Your Ombuds is:

  • An amplifier that makes it easier to acknowledge and listen to employee voices
  • A beacon like a lighthouse that helps the organization stay on course and avoid costly disasters
  • An irritant that makes the organization aware of uncomfortable truths with the goal of finding solutions

Although independent, your Ombuds can be a helpmate to key stakeholders like legal, HR and learning and development.

Why are Ombuds Programs Important Now?

First, let me describe an Ombuds Program.

It is the process of developing the parameters, standards and best practices for an Ombuds Office in your organization.

The world of work dramatically changed after COVID.  Employees began to change their perceptions and expectation about work, especially Millennials and Gen Z workers.

Employees say...

  • 92% say psychological safety at work is very important to them (APA 2023 Work in America Survey)
  • 56% say they wouldn't consider a job where the organization's values didn't align with their own (Qualtrics)

Money and title are no longer the motivators they once were to employees. Your people want more. Ombuds Programs are worth exploring because organizations with high levels of psychological safety enjoy:

  • 76% more engagement
  • 50% more productivity
  • 27% reduction in turnover
  • 74% less stress

What would more engagement and more productivity allow you to do in your organization? Let's talk about how an Ombuds Program could specifically help you grow.

How does an Ombuds differ from HR?

Your Human Resources team (HR) is an important formal part of your organization that assists you to attract top candidates, onboard and develop new employees and share information about important policies and resources.  However, most HR professionals will say that they are not comfortable managing employee disputes, bullying and other workplace issues. 

While your employee relations team can investigate allegations of harassment or unfair treatment, are not trained to help employees to rebuild trust and an ongoing relationship between employees in these situations.

Your Ombuds is an important informal resource who is an alternative dispute resolution expert. Your Ombuds as the knowledge, experience and skills to coach leaders, managers and employees through difficult situations and tough conversations so they can work together productively.

Your Ombuds will hear information that will enable you to better understand your employee experience and employer value proposition, which helps leadership to make better informed decisions for your company and its employees.

HR and Ombuds work on parallel paths to ensure your employees are satisfied and engaged.

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