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Human Resources

Workplace Advisors

Date: November 2012

Philosophy and Purpose: The College has established the Workplace Advisor program as an alternative to assist employees in resolving problems they may experience in the workplace.

Policy: While employees are encouraged to discuss issues with supervisors, managers, Human Resources staff, and the Employee Assitance Program facilitators, employees occasionally need to be able to talk to someone confidentially, knowing that no action will be taken unless the employee decides that action should be taken.

The College has established the Workplace Advisor program to assist employees in resolving work-related problems by bringing them to the attention of a confidential advisor and seeking advice on how best to resolve these issues. In addition, there may be other problems that are partially or totally unrelated to work that may be troubling employees, and for which the thoughts of a neutral party might be helpful. Typical concerns might include: 
· Concerns in which the employee is not clear who can be of assistance;
· Specific conflict situations (perhaps a single isolated issue);
· Ongoing conflict in work relationships (between any two employees, whether or not 
there is a supervisory relationship between them);
· Employee stress issues due to workload, family/work issues or other job 
stresses.

The College has appointed a group of six Workplace Advisors from various areas of the College, including faculty, administrative staff and support staff. A list of the current Workplace Advisors, including contact information, is published annually.

Role of Workplace Advisors

Any employee may approach the workplace advisor of his/her choice on a confidential basis, to obtain advice, guidance, assistance or referral to other resources for the problem at hand. The employee may select whichever workplace advisor seems appropriate under the circumstances. The workplace advisor may assist the employee by:
· Providing information and assistance to visitors (employees who choose to access the service). This includes: 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; and empowering the visitor to decide which option(s) might be best to pursue

· With the visitor's consent, participating in active problem-solving, through information gathering and/or facilitating discussions between the visitor and others involved in the conflict. (This might make it impossible to maintain the visitor's confidentiality, which is why further involvement by the workplace advisor would require agreement.) The workplace advisor provides a neutral or objective viewpoint in such discussions.

· Providing confidential "trend" feedback to the President and senior managers, when a series of problems seems to be occurring over a specific policy or procedure, or with respect to a particular area or department. Each semester, workplace advisors will meet as a group and discuss any trends they have seen in terms of employee issues or problems that have been brought to their attention as individuals. The workplace advisors will then meet as a group with the President to provide appropriate feedback on trends or policy issues that have been identified, and may meet with senior staff as needed for discussion. Information shared in this way would be carefully filtered to maintain the anonymity of employees who had approached the workplace advisors for help.

Confidentiality

The importance of confidentiality cannot be stressed enough. Workplace advisors are expected to maintain the confidences of visitors 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 a visitor’s explicit permission will a workplace advisor communicate with another person about a specific conflict or consultation, except in three situations: 
1. 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 Program (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.
2. In the event of a reported sexual assault or rape occurring on the campus, the workplace advisor will consult with Campus Security. Depending on the facts, appropriate steps may be taken by the College to prevent harm to other members of the campus community. As required by law, all disclosures to any College employee of an on-campus sexual assault are tabulated for statistical purposes by Campus Security, without identifying information.
3. If child abuse is reported to a workplace advisor who is also a teacher or a College supervisor, (s)he is required under Maine law to report the matter to the Department of Human Services.

Problem-solving alternatives

Workplace advisors are not empowered or authorized by the College to impose resolutions on visitors 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 employee with the problem at hand, the employee may always request intervention by supervisors, managers or Human Resources. The formal grievance process may also be used at the option of the employee. 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.

Selection of Workplace Advisors

Workplace advisors are selected from the College 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 College and its employees. 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 College to enable them to devote the necessary time to this important role.

To Consult a Workplace Advisor

Workplace advisors will be available during their normal work hours for consultation and will be provided appropriate release time for this purpose. An employee may consult a workplace advisor by phone or in person. Meetings and other necessary discussions associated with consultations will be arranged by mutual agreement and convenience. Workplace advisors are not certified, trained or licensed as professional counselors. Visitors should bear this in mind in deciding the types of problems they might discuss with a workplace advisor.