NIH Employee Resources

Resources for Supervisors

The Office of the Ombudsman is a neutral confidential resource for NIH managers and employees providing informal assistance in addressing work-related issues.


Our office can help groups foster a productive work environment and healthy, effective relationships among team members. Through facilitation, coaching, climate assessments, group problem-solving training, and other informal collaborative processes, we provide assistance to NIH managers on how to effectively communicate expectations to employees; give and receive feedback and address concerns; and build an effective team.

Our office provides assistance in many types of conflicts, including difficult interpersonal situations, performance appraisals, harassment, and other types of workplace concerns. Our staff members do not serve as advocates for employees or managers and our services are offered on a voluntary basis. We can serve as a sounding board to help analyze complex situations, discuss various options with you, and assist in obtaining the information and resources needed to address your concerns. Our services, such as mediation and other non-adversarial processes, encourage better communication and promote early problem resolution in the workplace. Your communication with our office will be kept confidential, including the fact that you contacted our office. Because of the nature of our work, you are not required to reveal your visit to our office with anyone, including your supervisors. We will not take action or employ conflict resolution practices without the approval of the person visiting our office. All of our services are offered on a voluntary basis; thus we cannot require anyone to engage even if managers might wish that an employee, colleague or supervisor would participate in a conflict resolution process.

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.

Our office can also help clarify NIH policies and procedures and how they apply to you, as well as provide information on other NIH resources for employees, including Employee Relations, Human Resources, the Employee Assistance Program and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management.