Providing Information and Assistance
The Workplace Advisor may assist the staff member by:
- listening and asking questions to understand the situation
- acting as a sounding board
- providing information about and referral to other campus resources
- helping the visitor to explore options for resolving the situation
- empowering the visitor to decide which option(s) might be best to pursue
Actively Problem Solving
With the staff member's consent, a Workplace Advisor might also participate in active problem-solving, through information gathering and/or facilitating discussions between the employee and others involved in the conflict. (This might make it impossible to maintain the staff member's confidentiality, which is why further involvement by the Workplace Advisor would require agreement.) The Workplace Advisor is to provide a neutral or objective viewpoint in such discussions.
The importance of confidentiality cannot be stressed enough. Workplace Advisors are expected to maintain the confidences of those who consult them. Care will be taken in choosing meeting places and other means of communication to ensure that privacy is respected and confidentiality is maintained.
Only with an employee's explicit permission will a Workplace Advisor communicate with another person about a specific conflict or consultation, except in two situations:
- If the Workplace Advisor believes that any individual is in immediate physical danger from self or another person, (s)he will consult with an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) counselor, who will handle the matter in accordance with applicable professional standards for health care providers. The initial consultation with the EAP counselor need not identify the name of the visitor unless, in the professional judgment of the EAP counselor, such disclosure is necessary.
- If information regarding an incident of sexual misconduct or relationship violence is shared with a Workplace Advisor, he or she is required to complete the Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Reporting Form within 24 hours of receiving the report.
Workplace Advisors are not empowered or authorized by the University to impose resolutions on employees who have consulted them or on other parties to a particular conflict. They may, if requested, offer alternatives for the parties to consider as resolutions.
If the assistance of the Workplace Advisor does not help the staff member with the problem at hand, the staff member may always request intervention by supervisors, managers or Human Resources. The informal and formal problem-solving processes may also be used at the option of the staff member. However, one of many advantages of consulting a Workplace Advisor is that it may promote speedier and less formal resolutions before a small problem becomes a major conflict.
Requirements for Workplace Advisors
Workplace Advisors are selected from the University community. Selection is based on willingness to participate, commitment to problem solving and a general sense of trustworthiness, especially in terms of confidentiality. Their work is viewed as an important service to the University and its staff members. Though Workplace Advisors do not receive any additional compensation for this service, it is expected that they will be given relief from other committee work or service to the University to enable them to devote the necessary time to this important role. Workplace Advisors will be available during their normal work hours for consultation and will be provided appropriate release time for this purpose. Meetings and other necessary discussions associated with consultations will be arranged by mutual agreement and convenience.
A Workplace Advisor should be a member of the University community whose familiarity with the University and whose outlook and life experience enable them to be a good listener and communicator, to respect confidentiality, and if requested, to be a constructive facilitator in problem solving. Specific training in conflict resolution will be provided and should not be seen as a prerequisite for the job. Instead, it is essential that the Workplace Advisor enjoys the trust and respect of other members of the community. The Workplace Advisor must be discreet and tactful, possess good common sense, and communicate effectively and directly. The ability to remain objective and seek out the other side's point of view is important. Because it must be the visitor who decides what action (if any) will be taken, the Workplace Advisor must be willing to listen without taking action and be calm in the face of perceived conflict or injustice. The Workplace Advisor must enjoy a strong connection to the campus community through this work and be committed to a positive approach to problem-solving.