The Staff Ombuds Office provides a confidential, safe place to discuss work-related concerns, and to develop options and problem-solving strategies. The Staff Ombuds Office offers a variety of services to employees, managers, non-senate academics, and faculty in administrative positions. These services foster increased understanding about workplace problems and assist individuals and groups in finding effective paths toward resolution. Download our flyer on Staff Ombuds Office Flyers.
The Staff Ombuds Office operates in accordance with the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics by providing confidential, impartial, independent, and informal services.
Ombuds services are offered in the Fox Cottage on the south end of campus where employees can be assured of confidentiality. Please call 642-7823 to obtain more information or to schedule an appointment.
The Staff Ombuds Office offers several services to help employees create and maintain a positive working environment, including:
Individual Assessments and Referrals: The University has many resources available to employees. When contacting the Staff Ombuds Office, an ombudsperson will listen to understand the issues, answer questions about services and standards of practice, and, if appropriate, conduct an intake and schedule an appointment.
The phone assessment helps the ombudsperson determine which service is best and provides the ombudsperson an opportunity to share additional University resources. Common referrals include Employee Assistance, Central Human Resources or Campus Shared Services, Office of the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, Disability Management Services, Office of Ethics and Risk Compliance Services, unions, and many more. Since the Staff Ombuds Office is an off-the-record resource, it is never the wrong place to call since the ombudsperson can assist employees in connecting with the most appropriate resource to address their concern.
Individual Communication and Conflict Resolution Coaching: The ombudsperson carefully listens to fully understand the individual's experience and perspective. By examining employee concerns, the ombudsperson assists individuals in analyzinghow they would like to change the situation and what campus resources or policies may apply. Using problem solving and conflict coaching techniques, the Ombudsperson works with employees to develop communication and conflict resolution skills so that they are better equipped to effectively manage their situations. This includes thinking about the most effective way to surface a concern, identifying underlying issues, developing communication strategies, and exploring next steps.
Mediation: The Staff Ombuds Office offers mediation to help resolve conflicts. Mediation creates a constructive environment for dialogue and problem solving. It is a confidential, voluntary process by which the ombudsperson, acting as neutral party, first meets individually with each party and then helps two or more employees in developing a greater understanding and exploring mutually agreeable solutions. One advantage of mediation is that it allows the individuals involved to stay in control of their own situations, rather than turning over control to another person, whether a higher level manager, a hearing officer or arbitrator, or anyone else in a position of authority.
Group Conflict Resolution: The ombudsperson may also work with groups or teams that are having disagreements or conflicts affecting multiple people. The process will help identify underlying issues and help the group come to consensus. The ombudsperson’s role is to facilitate constructive discussions and share information and expertise related to effective group processes and conflict resolution.
Departmental Needs Assessments: The Staff Ombuds Office consults with managers to determine the department’s conflict resolution needs and whether training is appropriate. After determining the most effective way to meet the needs of the audience, tailor-made classes and workshops may be delivered to units or working groups.
Training: The Staff Ombuds Office offers a variety of free classes and workshops available to all that provide background and tools to manage and resolve conflict in the workplace. Download the class schedule here. To register for a class, enter the UC Learning Center site directly through the Blu portal, http://blu.berkeley.edu/.
Outreach: The Staff Ombuds Office provides on-site informational presentations to increase awareness about the role and services of the Ombuds. Flyers about ombuds services are also available for download in English, Chinese, and Spanish. These flyers can be posted or distributed to employees, including posting on workplace bulletin boards.
Self Help Tools and Ombuds News: The Staff Ombuds Office regularly posts tools and information on the website that staff can use on their own or recommend to others who are looking for ways to handle problematic situations or workplace conflicts. The Staff Ombuds Office also has a small lending library on relevant workplace topics. Staff members are invited to contact the office to obtain relevant information, including scheduling an appointment to visit the library, and checking out materials.
Facilitating Communications between Individuals: At times, with the expressed permission of the employee, the ombudsperson may act as a go-between when there is fear of retaliation and/or when it is culturally inappropriate or uncomfortable to confront someone directly.
Feedback About Systemic Trends and Issues of Concern: The Director of the Staff Ombuds Office consults on an ongoing basis with key administrators, staff organizations, and leaders on campus to bring systemic problems to the attention of the responsible change agents and to discuss general campus conflict trends and responses. The Staff Ombuds Office also issues Biennial Reports to provide information about office activities and recommendations for systemic change to the campus community and leadership.
Common workplace concerns include respect and civility, work style differences, excessive stress, job/role clarity, general climate, management skills, and performance issues. For example, an employee may bring issues to the Staff Ombuds Office when the employee:
- Feels he/she has been treated rudely or excluded.
- Receives an email that feels insulting and isn’t sure how to respond.
- Feels micromanaged or, conversely, cannot get a manager’s attention on an issue.
- Feels an interaction with a coworker was “off” or something didn’t feel “quite right.”
- Is experiencing high levels of stress from a workplace conflict.
- Is unclear about his/her role.
- Is concerned about workplace gossip or bullying.
- Feels a manager doesn’t understand the employee’s job responsibilities or workload.
- Feels there has been a breach in trust.
- Wants to clarify performance standards.
- Wants help understanding the performance evaluation process or improving performance.
- Wants assistance interpreting or providing constructive feedback.
- Wants to improve communication with a colleague.
- Wants to practice approaches for initiating difficult conversations or facilitating tense team meetings.
- Wants advice on any other workplace situation . . .
Please call 642-7823 to learn more about services or to schedule an appointment. This call is confidential. Please note the Staff Ombuds Office does not accept email as it is not a confidential form of communication.