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Benefits of an Outsourced Ombuds Office

MWI’s Outsourced Ombuds resource helps both large companies and small businesses gain the benefits of having an ombuds but at less cost than employing a full-time ombuds. Ombuds help employees feel happier where they work. They also help companies attract and keep top talent. Outsourced ombuds, like MWI, can enhance these benefits without the overhead costs of a full-time employee.


What is an Ombuds Office?

An ombuds office (formerly ombudsman office) facilitates informal resolution for any employee concern. For example, an ombuds is available to discuss any conflicts or complaints. Ombuds also can answer employee questions about policies or procedures. To sum up, an ombuds office is a confidential place for employees to speak with someone trained to listen, coach, and facilitate discussion.

Many employers understand that is important to help employees and management feel:

  • Recognized
  • Respected
  • Heard
  • Appreciated
  • Valued

An ombuds office is designed to serve these goals. Ombuds provide employees a comfortable place to go with any questions about conflict, complaints, or policies. Ombuds also have the tools to help employees find their best solution.


What are the benefits of an Ombuds Office?

Ombuds are a independent, informal, confidential, and neutral resource to employees. This means employees can approach an ombuds without fear of retaliation. Ombuds’ confidential nature also makes employees more likely to talk to them. As HR Magazine noted, “[t]hese individuals can help HR professionals by handling many employee-relations concerns, including potentially unethical or illegal behavior, before they get out of hand.”

Additionally, as a neutral resource, ombuds can follow up anonymously to make sure all complaints are addressed. As an expert on the company’s structure, ombuds also know who to contact to resolve complaints.

Lastly, because ombuds are conflict experts, they can design unique solutions for employees. These can range from individual coaching sessions to helping write company-wide policies.


Ombuds OfficeWhat is an Outsourced Ombuds Office?

MWI’s outsourced ombuds office model provides companies with one or two designated neutrals to serve as an impartial dispute resolution practitioner. These practitioners provides independent, informal, confidential, and neutral assistance to employees.

An outsourced ombuds provides the same functions as an on-site ombuds, including:

  • Being available to all employees to discuss, address, and resolve any issue;
  • Connecting employees to resources to better understand company policies, guidelines, and organizational structure;
  • Acting as a confidential and informal contact to resolve concerns;
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality (except where there is a serious threat of harm); and
  • Providing anonymized feedback to the organization.

In addition to providing the same benefits as on-site ombuds, outsourced ombuds also provide additional benefits to employees.


Benefits of an Outsourced Ombuds Office

  • Confidentiality
    • If an employees wants to speak with an ombuds, but can be easily seen entering or leaving the office of the ombuds, their anonymity can be threatened. This reduces an ombuds’ ability to keep employee concerns confidential. Having an outsourced ombuds office, a call or email away, preserves employee confidentiality.
  • Cost Effective
    • The cost of hiring a full-time employee to serve as ombuds or a handful of employees to create a comprehensive ombuds office will likely result in higher costs than hiring an outsourced option. Factor in paid benefits such as vacation, health insurance, and 401k contributions, and companies can save tremendously with an outsourced ombuds.
  • Diversity
    • For less than the cost of one full-time ombuds, an outsourced ombuds can provide a choice of neutrals. This choice can include two ombuds of different genders, race, professional experience or age. This offers employees diverse perspectives, thus decreasing barriers and increasing the likelihood people will reach out.
  • Flexibility
    • When an ombuds and company begin working together, a charter is created. A charter is a document that explains the roles and functions of the ombuds. A well-written charter will also include a termination policy, giving the employer the flexibility to renew or terminate the relationship.

What is a Conference Ombuds?

To ensure that conference attendees are supported at your next conference, consider the benefits of an outsourced conference ombuds. MWI’s conference ombuds team members provide informal, independent, neutral, and confidential support to your members and resolve concerns before they escalate. Learn more here.


Conclusion

Ombuds help companies resolve conflicts early. As a confidential and neutral resource, they can help employees feel recognized, respected, heard, and valued. Outsourced ombuds provide many of the same benefits as a full-time ombuds but at a fraction of a cost. Additionally, MWI’s Outsourced Ombuds program provides companies with a choice of neutrals, increasing the diverse perspectives available to employees and the likelihood they will reach out.


For more information about MWI’s Outsourced Organizational Ombuds Services, contact Josh Hoch, Ombuds & Director of Ombuds Services, at 617-895-4208, visit www.mwi.org/ombuds or send an email to ombuds@mwi.org.

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