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Committee devises a new approach to solving workplace problems
Committee devises a new approach to solving workplace problemsNovember 21, 2001SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Occasionally in the workplace, issues arise between co-workers, or between supervisors and non-bargaining unit staff, that discussion alone between the parties cannot resolve.
Syracuse University has both informal and formal methods in place through the Office of Human Resources for addressing such issues. However, the existing formal procedure, the Problem Referral Procedure, has been underutilized and is not well understood by the campus community.
Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw recently charged Human Resources to work with the appropriate Senate committees to develop a new formal staff grievance procedure. In his charge, the Chancellor states iWhat I want to see is a staff complaint process that is user friendly, fair to all concerned, trusted by all participants, and that provides timely resolution of workplace complaints that arise.i
The informal procedure for resolving employee relations issues for non-bargaining unit staff is through the Human Resources’ Diversity and Resolution Processes office, and this office will continue in this role. It should be possible to resolve most employee relations issues at the department level, or with the help of this office. It is understood, though, that there will always be some issues that require a more formal review.
The current formal review (Problem Referral Procedure) is a three-step process that has been used infrequently in past years, presumably because the campus community was not generally aware that the program existed, and also because the procedure is management driven. Under the direction of Neil Strodel, associate vice president for human resources, the process has been better communicated and usage has increased slightly Nevertheless, flaws in the procedure kept it from being trusted by some participants to fairly mediate employee relations issues.
The task of developing a new, more responsive staff grievance procedure for resolving issues was undertaken by a subcommittee comprising representatives from the Senate Committee on Women’s Concerns, the Senate Committee on Services to Faculty and Staff, and Human Resources. Judy L. Hamilton, interim executive director of the Honors Program, and David Potter, associate dean in The College of Arts and Sciences, worked along with HR staff members Strodel, Jack Matson, director of staff relations and recruitment, and Curlene Autrey, director of diversity and resolution processes. The proposed procedure can be viewed on the Web at http://sumweb.syr.edu/hrm/div&resp/.
“This proposed procedure is designed to be timely and fair to all participants,” says Strodel. “We look forward to receiving feedback from the campus community. Once complete, this improved procedure adds another step to redesigned HR policies and procedures that contribute positively to the worklife of staff at Syracuse University.”
“One of the many benefits of the new procedure is that it provides a process that includes other staff members in the University community in problem resolution, first by engaging volunteer staff mediators, and at the formal stage utilizing volunteer staff members on Hearing Panels,” says committee member Judy Hamilton.
Plans are underway for focus group meetings during spring 2002 for employees to provide feedback before the proposal is finalized. The procedure will be refined after the feedback is received from the focus groups.
Committee members welcome questions and comments on the proposal, and they may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I strongly encourage staff to read the proposed procedure and provide feedback on it,” Hamilton says. “That will be very helpful as we prepare the final document.”