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Issue 29 - April 2017

Integrated employee support framework for dispute handlers


Like any organisation providing a service to the public, at FOS our dispute handlers work with a myriad of difficult situations where there isn’t always a clear solution.

Diana Ennis, Senior Manager, External Dispute Resolution Teams, recently talked about FOS’s ‘Integrated employee support framework’ at the Complaints Handling Forum held by the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

FOS is committed to supporting our dispute handlers by providing information, resources and internal programmes that enable them to build their resilience and understanding of the situations they work with.

Dispute handlers witness and can bear the brunt of anger, tears, and threats of self-harm and abusive language during the course of their work. This can begin to break down even the most resilient of people over time.

By walking in the shoes of stakeholders (members, their customers or consumer advocates), FOS dispute handlers (and in fact, those in any industry) are exposed to a continuum of risk: at a low level, concern, and at a high level, vicarious trauma.

We have devised a number of internal strategies to support dispute handlers at FOS, including:

  • skills focused training programs e.g. mediation skills, mental health first aid, stress management and resilience
  • Accessibility & Emergency guides
  • well established escalation protocols
  • Speaker series involving specialists in areas such as domestic violence and victims of crime
  • Employee Assistance program (EAP), providing a part-time onsite psychologist and offsite services
  • FOS Fit, a year -long program of activities to promote mental health and wellbeing, an active and healthy lifestyle and social connectivity
  • growing a positive and supportive workplace culture.