Ombudsmen listen to employee problems

In times of tight budgets and hiring freezes, it’s more important than ever for WSU offices to work together.
 
“In this economic environment, we’re left with what and who we have,” said WSU ombudsman Judy Krueger at the recent monthly meeting of the Administrative Professional Advisory Council. “Offices must work as a team, consider the morale of all and promote workplace civility.
 
“Supervisors should promote active listening and open-door policies, so employees can come and talk.”
 
Krueger and co-ombudsman Ken Struckmeyer made a presentation at the meeting to remind employees that the ombudsmen are available to help. They provide confidential, neutral, independent and informal listening in an attempt to help employees clarify issues and explore options, Struckmeyer said.
 
Krueger said staff complaints fall mostly into four categories:
 
1. Workplace environment, typically between a supervisor and employee or between two employees.
 
“For example, a supervisor favoring one employee,” Krueger said. “Or co-worker competition, or absence of communication or respect.”
 
2. Supervisor handling of medical issues. Well-meaning supervisors may try to discuss, advise or manage the condition. But this is the responsibility of Human Resource Services, Krueger said, and not of the boss.
 
3. Performance reviews. Employees allege reviews are unfair, typically because they only focus on negative aspects, are held infrequently or because the employee believes the supervisor is not familiar with his or her work. Krueger recommended annual reviews that include a job description, positive goals to work toward and progress made.
 
4. Firing for no cause. Washington state law stipulates that administrative professional employees may be discontinued without cause, Krueger said.
 
The ombudsman office is located in Wilson Hall 2 and is open 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information call 335-1195 or visit ONLINE @ www.wsu.edu/~ombuds.

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