More information

Here is some more detailed information about Employee Liaison Service (ELS) for organisations interested in signing up

ELS and your organisation

We are a confidential, off-the-record place for employees to turn to when they are experiencing conflict at work. We are independent of your organisation. ELS supplements and supports your organisation’s regular channels for workplace issues by informally working through issues with you. We do not take sides. 

Our people are highly skilled in effective conflict resolution, including creative-problem-solving, coaching, values-based decision-making, facilitation, and mediation. We assist you as often as you need and in ways that best suit you and the issue you are dealing with.

ELS also monitors trends for early detection of potentially significant issues at the institutional level. Sometimes people in difficult situations simply hope that something similar does not happen again to someone else in the organisation. ELS can signal those concerns in its aggregated, anonymised reports to your organisation’s leadership.

ELS is a powerful tool for businesses to provide a pathway that gives employees a voice, signals managements desire for discussing issues in a non-threatening environment and uses any systemic feedback to facilitate change.

We adhere to the principles established for by the International Ombudsman Association’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

We are committed to:

  • Providing a safe, off-the-record place for you to share confidences where we listen without judging.
  • Assisting you in figuring out what is going on for you, what you want to do about it, and how you want to resolve the issue.
  • Offering you an impartial perspective.
  • Keeping your visit and everything that you tell us strictly confidential, within legal limits.
  • Not keeping any identifying information or records about you or your concern.
  • Equipping you with skills and strategies to prevent and manage conflict more effectively.
  • Connecting you with the right individuals within the organisation who can answer your questions, accept formal complaints and grievances, or address your concerns in a formal way.
  • Identifying trends and systemic problems and providing information about these to your organisation.
  • Empowering you to explore and assess option for addressing workplace related concerns.

We do not:

  • Accept formal grievances or complaints on your organisation’s behalf. Speaking with ELS does not put your organisation on notice of an issue. We can however assist you in determining how you would like to raise concerns formally within your organisation.
  • Conduct or participate in any formal investigations, grievance processes, or complaint processes.
  • Advocate for individuals.
  • Provide legal advice.
  • Share information in a way that violates confidentiality, unless we are required to by court order or because there is a health and safety risk in not doing so.
  • Make decisions, enforce recommendations, or change policies or organisational decisions.
  • Accept notice to an organisation of an issue. Telling ELS about an issue is not the same as telling my organisation about the issue.

The four pillars of ELS

All aspects of the ELS are underpinned by the following pillars:

Impartial

We are a neutral, impartial advocate for a fair process. We do not take sides or advocate for any individual, group or entity or for an outcome.

Confidential

We are an off-the-record resource, which means that what we discuss is confidential. This means that we do not share information about who used ELS or what was discussed. We do not share any personal information with an employee’s manager or supervisor, organisational leaders, or external parties. We will protect and honour that confidentiality within legal limitations. Reasons we may have to share information about an individual visit include where we are compelled to do so by law or where we determine that there is an imminent risk of serious harm to people, property or resources.

Independent

We are not part of your organisation’s management and operate freely from the organisation.

Informal

We do not formally investigate, arbitrate, adjudicate or participate in any internal or external formal process or action. Contact with us does not prevent employees from pursuing formal resolution channels within your organisation. In fact, working with ELS can assist employees in determining what formal resolution channel they might like to use and what supports are needed in place to do so. It also does not initiate a formal complaint or appeal process, or stop the clock for any of these formal processes.

How ELS benefits your organisation

ELS aggregates the concerns of visitors over a given period, and prepares a report identifying alerts and common themes and trends for leadership to address. This report is presented to the leadership and debriefed. The information in the report is de-identified so individual employee’s privacy is protected. To learn more about our Privacy Policy, please review it here

Examples of the kinds of issues that might be surfaced with your organisation include:

  • Awareness of available resources. Several ELS visitors may have come in with questions about resources that they are unwilling to ask about internally -  for example,  questions about available support services. ELS can provide information about this, but more importantly, can help troubleshoot why these visitors were not aware of them and what the organisation can do to make it easier for employees to find the information they need.
  • New policy needs. Several ELS visitors from around the organisation and with different circumstances may share the same issue: no clear re-integration process for people returning to teams after long absences. This could be due to parental leave, secondments, or other issues. Because ELS has an overall view of the organisation, it can spot the patterns and recommend to the organisation that it should consider a formal re-integration process and policy.
  • Awareness of larger issues. Several ELS visitors from various parts of the organisation are uncomfortable with the culture of the organisation, but feel that their individual experiences are too trivial or isolated to warrant formal complaints. ELS can aggregate these experiences, anonymise them, and share them with the organisation as an overall pattern that the organisation should investigate.

How common are services like this?

Similar services are popular in universities and academic institutions around the world. Most are concentrated in the Americas and parts of Europe. It is also popular with many North American (United States and Canada) government agencies and departments. Companies and corporations around the world also use services like this, including some of the most well-known brands in the world.  

Services like this are very common overseas and are often known as an 'organisational ombudsman' internationally. However, in New Zealand, under Section 28A of the Ombudsman Act (1975), the use of the name ombudsman is restricted to those appointed under the Act or where the Chief Ombudsman has given prior written consent to use the name.

Common uses of ELS

Here are some typical cases where employees find ELS useful:

Leadership issues, including:

  • Concerns about respect/treatment
  • How to address concerns about lack of trust
  • What to do if you think there is favouritism
  • Concerns about change management processes and impacts

Interpersonal working relationships, including:

  • How to deal with interpersonal issues with colleagues
  • How to raise issues about team dynamics

Performance issues, including:

  • Concerns about management processes
  • Questions about performance improvement
  • Questions about performance evaluation, goals and metrics
  • Job posting and selection
  • Concerns about career progression

Control & Compliance, including:

  • Concerns about harassment and/or bullying
  • Where to go with concerns about Code of Conduct/Conflict of Interest
  • Issue with business practices.
  • How to raise data privacy and security issues
  • What to do about concerns about employee fraud

Common outcomes

Here are some typical outcomes you can expect from your ELS visit:

  • Remember: You recognise the pathways for raising issues formally.
  • Apply: You implement a conflict resolutions strategy.
  • Analyse: You understand the conflict, why it occurred, and your contribution to it.
  • Evaluate: You weigh the options that may resolve a conflict.
  • Create: You construct a strategy for avoiding future issues.

Find out more

If you are interested in signing your organisation up for ELS please get in touch with Jennifer Mahony.