NIH Employee Resources

Resources for Fellows and Interns

Whether you are working in a lab or an office during your time at NIH, you will learn new techniques and skills that are essential to success in your career. Building relationships with colleagues and supervisors and working in a team environment are important steps on the path to success in the workplace. Working with colleagues who have different perspectives, communication styles, and work habits can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or create difficult situations. The Office of the Ombudsman is a neutral, confidential resource providing help in addressing a wide variety of work-related problems.

If you need assistance in managing a difficult interpersonal situation; performance appraisal issue; harassment; or other lab or workplace matter, our office can discuss various options with you and assist you in obtaining the information and resources needed to address your concerns. We offer services, including facilitation and coaching, to encourage better communication and promote early problem resolution in the workplace. We also assist the scientific community at NIH in resolving conflicts related to collaboration, authorship, scientific disputes, and other aspects of team science.

Our office does not serve as an advocate for employees or supervisors, and all services are offered on a voluntary basis. Your communication with our office will be kept confidential, including the fact that you contacted our office. Because of the nature of our work, employees are not required to reveal their visit to our office with anyone, including supervisors. All of our services are offered on a voluntary basis; thus we cannot require other employees or managers to engage even if employees might wish that a manager or colleague would participate in a conflict resolution process. We will not take action or employ conflict resolution practices without the approval of the person visiting our office.

We also identify systemic conflicts, bringing to management’s attention those practices, norms, policies, and aspects of NIH culture that appear to exacerbate tensions and create problems for fellows, scientists and administrative staff. By highlighting these systemic issues and providing suggestions for addressing them, ombudsmen help institutions take steps to improve the work environment across multiple layers of the organization.

If you are unclear about NIH policies and procedures or feel that a policy has been applied unfairly or erroneously, our office can help provide or obtain accurate information. Our office can also provide information on other NIH resources, including the Employee Assistance Program, Office of Intramural Training and Education, Office of Intramural Research, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management, Employee Relations, and Human Resources.