Dealing With Difficult Issues to Achieve Real World Results

  • Do you believe that staff-related issues have a direct or indirect impact on the degree to which your business will succeed or fail?
  • Do you believe that employees have issues at work they don’t know how to address?
  • Do you believe that many of those employees ultimately decide it’s too risky to raise their concern?
  • Do you believe that good employees leave the company rather than try and address conflicts at work?
  • Do you believe that Companies who know about and have a chance to address systemic issues are better off than those who don’t.  


Independence, Confidentiality and Impartiality, encourage people to work with the ombuds office and explore effective options. This is especially important for those who are reluctant or afraid of management, or those within the organization who are wary of complainants. By creating a safe space, ombuds receive unvarnished feedback about an organization’s programs and processes. This feedback informs the recommendations ombuds make to the organization as to how to better serve their constituents.

Dr Andre  Smuts �



Informality (which is defined as not having any formal management decision making power nor providing formal rights-based processes for redress), Credibility with regards to practices and procedures, and a Commitment to Fairness serve as a platform on which to
practice the standards.

 Detoxifying the Workplace 

Who hasn’t had a problem at work where it would have been helpful to talk with an experienced, knowledgeable, qualified individual “off-the-record”? Think of it: anyone – at any level – can contact an Organizational Ombudsman as a resource, thought-partner, sounding board or personal coach and still maintain complete control of their issue while getting the help they need.

Our clients tell us they are proud they have an Organizational Ombudsman as much for well-being promotion as for conflict neutralisation.

Knowing that a safe, off-the-record resource exists for the benefit of everyone – employees and the organization is a considerable competitive advantage.

The bottom line is the bottom line:

Dont just take our word for it-Independent research has shown that making an Organizational Ombudsman available to your employees can deliver many tangible and intangible benefits. 

  • A decrease in the incidence and cost of litigation and the cost of using formal internal processes
  • An increase in overall productivity and less management time spent on conflict.
  • Increases in employee conflict management skills
  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction as well as pride in the organization.

Wellbeing  8 Reasons Why Organizations Should Create Wellbeing Ombuds Programs

1. An alternative informal channel to provide information to policymakers and prevent wrongdoing:


An informal channel to prevent wrongdoing and unethical behaviour by both the individuals of the organization and the organization itself.  Judges view organizations more favourably and have been more lenient with penalties where there are Wellbeing Ombuds Programs offered as another resource to employees to prevent wrongdoing.

2. Provide a safe place for employees to brainstorm options to address their concerns or questions without going on the record with a formal channel and trigger formal investigations.

Wellbeing Ombuds can coach employees to go to a formal channel to consider an investigation or can help navigate options to address their concerns which they would not have ordinarily considered.

3. Reduces costs by resolving disputes prior to any formal processes including litigation.

4. Wellbeing Ombuds Programs encourage employees to use the company’s internal formal processes to address their grievances

 Some employees share information re legal, ethical violations with the Wellbeing Ombuds, and the Ombuds can coach them to address their concerns with a formal channel and/or share the information anonymously with the hotline or formal channel, thereby encouraging employees to use the internal investigation process first.

5. Early warning system:

The Wellbeing Ombuds Program provides advice and early trends analysis and identifies potential emerging trends and sensitive issues. The Wellbeing Ombuds program also encourages employees to speak out confidentially about any financial, ethical or illegal concerns without fear of retaliation. The Ombuds share trends of the types of issues brought to the Ombuds with senior management, HR and Compliance that they may not be aware of so that these formal channels can consider proactively providing training or discreetly looking into the issue before it gets worse or potentially has a significant negative impact on the company’s reputation.

6. Increases Employee Engagement, Productivity, and Retention and serves as another Candidate Recruitment Tool:

Employees using the Wellbeing Ombuds programs have shared that they would have left the company but for having this safe alternate channel to air their concerns and an Ombuds to help them navigate their workplace challenges. Prospective candidates have shared that they were also interested in working for a company that cared enough to have another safe place for them to air their concerns outside of the formal channels.

7. A safe place to address workplace conflict and coaching, and encourage employee engagement.

With changing demographic trends and talent shortages, workforce demographics also changing resulting in expected potential cultural and personal workplace conflict. The Wellbeing Ombuds program offers conflict coaching and off the record facilitation between colleagues to address workplace conflict and enable employees to remain engaged.


8. Wellbeing Ombuds Programs have a pulse on the organization, employee issues and adherence to a single corporate culture and ethics

The Wellbeing Ombuds program offers a safe place for employees to share feedback to the organization and the reality of the existence of the corporate culture and values in the workplace. 

As a retained service the Wellbeing Ombuds Office can be scaled to each companies individual requirements, whether it be 2 hours a month or 20, the overall advantages remain the same.  The scope, scale,variety and depth of offerings being structured around your real time need


Addressing the On-boarding Issues



UNFAMILIAR CONCEPT: What is an Organizational Wellbeing  Ombudsman (OWO)?

·       If I’ve never heard much about it, it can’t be very important.

·       I can’t even pronounce the word. Most people are completely unfamiliar with such a thing.

 An OWO plays a unique role in an organization – they are a completely confidential, off-the-record resource and can help employees address significant issues in the workplace.

You’re right. It’s a word/concept people in our business don’t hear a lot about, but once they understand what it is and see the upside, they get on board pretty quickly.

OWO is much more prevalent in higher education (colleges and universities) and in the government sector. If you recruit from top institutions, having an OWO may be a selling point for top applicants.


COST: We’re cutting expenses in essential business requirements; there’s no way we can add an expense like this.

·       If it’s not “needed,” we can’t justify the expense.

·       It’s an extravagance.

Independent Return on Investment (ROI) studies indicate, conservatively, that R1 invested in OWO will return over R20  in savings/gains.*

o   Decreased litigation

o   Decreased use of formal processes

o   Increased productivity

o   Decreased loss of management time

o   Increased communication/conflict resolution skills of employees

“TURF”: We already have robust resources for employees (HR/EEO/ER/ADR, Compliance/Ethics/Legal, EAP). Adding another would be confusing to employees and a redundant expense.

OWO does not replace the formal channels (HR/Compliance etc.), instead it is an alternate to formal channels and entirely unique in 1) confidentiality; 2) independence; 3) informality; and 4) true impartiality.

All formal channels have limits on their promise of confidentiality that the OWO does not have unless there is an imminent risk of serious harm, e.g. life threatening, significant financial or reputational harm etc.

The OWO does not have the same duty to act or report (not an office of notice), so employees feel safer than potentially exposing themselves by going to a formal channel.

Even well-intentioned zero tolerance/strict enforcement programs can lead to a lack of reporting. Research says that in such an environment, 50% of employees may not report issues.

The formal and informal channels can work together to become parts of a robust system of identifying, raising and addressing issues at work.

HEAD IN THE SAND: We are confident that we don’t have any significant “unknown” issues/liabilities/risks.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

If there is a significant negative legal decision, class action, consent decree, penalty imposed against your organization, the fact that you offer an OWO as a resource can be positive factor in determining what penalty is imposed.

Plus, there is a chance that the issue may come to light and be addressed before it becomes significant or a legal matter.

Averting one major problem with the help of the OWO, could mean your OO program has sustained itself for years.

IT’S NOT VOLUNTARY: Only the “bad” actors in business get saddled with this kind of thing.

The establishment of the OWO  may or may not be related to a legal issue at your company.

[When it is] Having experienced all the benefits of the OWO, Our clients often  wish they have done this sooner (and avoided or resolved even more disruptive issues.

[When it wasn’t] Our Clients made a strategic decision based on their  desire to drive an ethical/accountable/fair culture, Their forecast of ROI, their assessment of how the  Sentencing Guidelines favor the use of this kind of resource, etc.

Because the OWO provides confidentiality, its presence may be one of the most powerful governance tools corporate directors and management have at their disposal today.