ELS - safeguarding employees and organisations in the #MeToo era

In the wake of #MeToo, an increasing number of organisations are taking a serious look at how they can provide meaningful opportunities for employees to raise issues, particularly those related to harassment and bullying, as well as be responsive to disruptive risks which have a direct effect on an organisation’s culture. A recent article for the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, The Board, CEO Misconduct, and Corporate Culture, reflected on this and provided a list of Top 10 best practices to better equip organisations to safeguard employees and organisational culture. Having a “culture ombudsman” was included as a best practice.

In 2018, FairWay launched the Employee Liaison Service (ELS). ELS is based on international best practice workplace models like the “culture ombudsman” discussed in the Harvard article. ELS is an informal support service for employees to reach out to. Organisations sign up to FairWay’s service and FairWay helps their employees navigate issues or advise them on the options that are available to them. Currently, several large workplaces have embedded ELS into their organisations. 

What is ELS? It is an off-the-record place for employees to turn to when they are experiencing conflict at work. ELS supplements and supports an organisation’s regular channels for workplace issues. It is impartial, independent, confidential and informal.

ELS supports both employees of an organisation and the organisation itself. It monitors trends for early detection of potentially significant issues at the institutional level—allowing organisations to better respond to disruptive risk. 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 an organisation’s leadership.

A recent case study from ELS highlights why this service is needed and works:

Thomas* was contemplating quitting his job because of a stressful relationship with a colleague. He felt bullied by his colleague and did not think his experiences were being taken seriously by his manager. Thomas felt that quitting was his only option.

Working with his ELS practitioner, Thomas was able to articulate what the issues were and how they were affecting his ability to do his job. With assistance from ELS, Thomas created a plan for how to raise this with the manager in a way that offered a more constructive and effective way forward. On receipt, the manager took swift, appropriate action which resulted in Thomas and his colleague having an opportunity to sit down and discuss issues with the assistance of a third-party. They resolved the bulk of their issues and created a plan for how they would work together, going forward. Thomas felt positive about the future and happy to keep a job he loves. 

ELS allows for issues to be addressed and resolved early, as proved by recent feedback from another employee who used the service:

[Had I not contacted ELS] I probably would not have sought further help until my issue began to escalate and affect other parts of life. I really appreciated having such an accessible, friendly, caring and responsive service at the end of a phone call. The follow up by ELS was also amazing!

How can I find out more?

For more information, please visit www.fairwayresolution.com/ELS  

If you are interested in signing your organisation up, please get in touch with Richard Binner.