Workplace Issue Resolution Program

Effective January 1, 2000, a new program will be available to the University community to assist with the resolution of workplace disputes called the Workplace Issue Resolution Program. This program modifies the current grievance procedure and was developed to find a more effective way to resolve all workplace disputes--one that would benefit all parties. The University understands that disputes can be time-consuming and demoralizing and that it is critical to address conflicts and issues with appropriate resolution vehicles prior to them getting too big to resolve effectively.

The Program focuses on providing the parties involved with a set of flexible options that allow the parties to choose a method or methods to assist in resolving their dispute with the least amount of disruption to the underlying work relationship. Additionally, the Program provides an opportunity to improve communication between the parties and strengthen the work relationship.

Three options are included in the Program that can be used independently or concurrently in the resolution of a workplace dispute:

  • Open Communication Philosophy
  • Conference/Facilitated Meetings
  • Mediation

The Program recognizes the importance and benefits of problem resolution by the parties who are directly involved in the conflict and provides several options to support that effort. All options take into consideration that the parties to the dispute are the ones that stand the best chance of generating solutions that are meaningful and lasting in their ongoing working relationships.

How do these Options Work?

Open Communication Philosophy

The Workplace Issue Resolution Program strongly supports efforts for open dialogue between a staff member and his/her supervisor by encouraging open lines of communication through the organization and through the administrative hierarchy. This option provides the most direct way to raise issues.

Conference/Facilitated Meetings

A conference with a professional from Human Resources or one of the University Resource Offices* can assist in determining what is an appropriate course of action for an issue. The goal of the conference is to provide direction and assistance in the resolution of the issues. As a result of that meeting, a member of the resource office may facilitate a meeting to assist in resolution of the issues; assist in the arrangement of mediation; or support attempts to go back to the school/center to resolve the issue.


The issue may also be addressed through mediation. Mediation is a private and confidential process for resolving conflict that gives the parties the opportunity to recognize and better understand each other's perspectives, as well as develop communication skills that contribute to their ability to undertake further workplace-related discussions. Additionally, mediation provides an opportunity to be heard with a neutral person who is not involved in the dispute. It allows for flexible and creative solutions that are designed by the parties directly involved in the issue, thereby making them easier to follow. Mediation can be initiated in two ways. A party to the dispute may either request mediation or may be referred to mediation by Human Resources or any other resource office.

The mediators for the Program are volunteers from the University community who have completed training and received a certificate in mediation.

Issues that may not be addressed through the Workplace Issue Resolution Program are:

  • Determination of base salary/salary increases, or claims of salary inequities, job grading, and classifications
  • Selection for jobs or reassignments
  • Performance appraisal
  • Decisions resulting in restructuring or position discontinuations
  • Terminations: Staff members whose employment with the University is terminated will not be afforded the opportunity to mediate the concerns they have regarding the termination. Any concern regarding the termination must be raised within twenty (20) working days from the date of termination. In these cases a staff member may request a panel hearing.

In developing this program, assistance was provided by the following members of the University community:

Jeanne Arnold, African American Resource Center
Donna Arthur, A-3 Assembly, Law School
Jim Bean, Penn Professional Staff Assembly
Lyn Davis, University Mediation Program
Ellie DiLapi, Penn Women's Center
Steve Epstein, University Museum
Valerie Hayes, Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Programs
Tom Henry, African American Association
Sandra Mancini , Human Resources
Carol Horne Penn, Human Resources, Committee Chairperson
Rick Reed, Audit & Compliance

This new Workplace Issue Resolution Program works for you and the University by strengthening Penn's traditional Open Door Policy and encouraging teamwork by providing a win-win system for working out differences within the University. If you would like additional information, please call (215) 898-1365.

Note: The provisions of applicable collective barganing agreements govern those employees in collective bargaining units.

--Division of Human Resources

* The University Resource Offices are the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations; Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs; African American Resource Center; Penn Women's Center; Office of the Ombudsman; and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center.

Revised Introductory Period

All new regular staff members are subject to an Introductory Period during the first four months of employment at the University. This introductory period may be extended after consultation with the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations. The purpose of the Introductory Period is to determine whether the new staff member meets the performance expectations for the position and if continued employment is warranted.

Effective January 1, 2000, the Introductory Period review process has been revised to enhance newly hired staff members' understanding of the performance expectations required for their positions and the criteria to be used for assessing their performance. Also, the revised process is designed to make it easier for supervisors to assess a staff member's performance against clearly defined and measurable expectations outlined during the first week of employment.

Some of the guidelines of the revised program are:

  • At the time of hire, all new regular staff members should receive a copy of his/her position description.
  • Written performance expectations should be established for each goal, project, or responsibility based on the duties outlined in the position description and departmental goals and needs.
  • The staff member should receive a copy of the Introductory Period Performance Plan (which outlines the performance expectations) within the first week of employment, so that s/he will be aware of what is expected of him/her during the introductory period review process.
  • There should be an ongoing dialogue between the staff member and supervisor on the performance expectations, departmental goals, and the staff member's progress in meeting these expectations.
  • Prior to the end of the introductory period the supervisor should assess the staff member's overall performance by completing and sharing with the staff member the new Introductory Review Performance Plan.

The revised Introductory Period Policy, Introductory Period Performance Plan, Supervisor/Manager Checklist for New Staff Members and other information about the Introductory Period will be available beginning January 1, 2000 via the Division of Human Resources Web site at www.hr.upenn.edu. Supervisors will receive a reminder about completing the new Introductory Review Performance Plan with a copy of the completed HR-1/HR-2 form when they hire new staff.

If you have any questions about the Introductory Period, please call the Division of Human Resources/Staff and Labor Relations at (215) 898-6093 or e-mail us at askhr@hr.upenn.edu.

Note: The provisions of applicable collective bargaining agreements govern those employees in collective bargaining units.

--Division of Human Resources

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 15, December 14, 1999

| FRONT PAGE | CONTENTS | JOB-OPS | CRIMESTATS | Holiday Shopping 1999, Part Two | Y2K Update: "We Will Have Succeeded" (Beck) | TALK ABOUT TEACHING ARCHIVE | BETWEEN ISSUES | JANUARY at PENN |