By: Moe Goswami, CEO and Russell Miller, Business Analyst, AINS
This article is part of a series on solution areas for the eCase digital process automation platform and was originally published on LinkedIn. You can read the original article here.
The goal of any government EEO or human resources office is to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. In addition to following federal laws designed to prevent workplace discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends several best practices for EEO and HR offices, including training “Human Resources managers and all employees on EEO laws,” promoting “an inclusive culture,” establishing “neutral and objective criteria to avoid subjective employment decisions,” and more. Unfortunately, even with the most robust measures in place, workplace EEO complaints are bound to occur. The EEOC reports that between 150 federal agencies with a workforce totaling three million employees, more than 16,000 complaints were issued within a single fiscal year. With this in mind, the challenge becomes managing these complaints to ensure the best outcome for all parties involved, while adhering to the highest level of compliance to federal laws and procedures.
In order to protect employees from discrimination and harassment, new standards for EEO complaint issuance and management are always being evaluated, so new policies and practices are ever-changing. Currently, employees seeking to resolve issues in the workplace have several options at their disposal. These include inquiries, alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), and the formal EEO complaint process. As most cases are nuanced, employers often encourage using ADR, or a “method of resolving disputes without litigation,” as this outcome can lead to better terms for all parties involved. Regardless of which option the parties chosen to pursue, having robust systems and procedures in place, which can ensure adherence to federal law and accommodate the changing practices of EEO complaint resolution is a must. To this end, EEO and HR offices should look to digital automation and low-code software as a service (SaaS) to power EEO complaints processing.
Unlike legacy custom-coded software, the configurability of low-code EEO complaints systems allows for new processes to be added to the solution as rules and regulations change. Integration across different platform areas allows for greater flexibility in how cases are resolved, from integration with ADR and Anti-Harassment modules to integration with employee and labor relations systems, for actions that need to be taken post-outcome within the EEO process. Within a single user face, managers can easily move the process to ADR outcomes including Mediation, Coaching, Facilitated Discussion, Informal Resolution, and Shuttle Diplomacy. Additionally, automated workflows, rules, and forms ensure compliance with federal law, and role-based security access ensures that different parties can only see the information that is made available to them while being able to track and follow necessary steps in procedure.
Among the most important benefits of low code is how digital platforms have completely transformed EEO complaints processing through the automation of the 462 and No Fears reports. Reporting data is tracked through the system enterprise, allowing managers to gather information and run a report with just a simple click. Because cases and all of their information are available digitally within the system, it is also very easy to convert cases, such as inquiries to informal complaints and informal complaints to formal complaints. Cases can be kicked off to different sectors without affecting the information within a current case. For example, once a harassment complaint has been filed with the EEO office and allegations sent, the complainant and subject(s) in the case can be forwarded to the anti-harassment team for harassment investigations. The automation of these types of workflows helps to prevent bottlenecks that can occur in traditional methods of communication between involved parties, such as email.
Additional processes which are now easily captured through automated low-code solutions include a Remand process, for when a case is denied or denied in part; a hearing process; an appeals process; an abeyance, and more. Other parameters such as the ability to mark and limit conflict of interest cases are available, as well as the ability to send and receive emails and documents directly from the system as needed, conveying information that is directly related to the appropriate step. It is also easy for managers to capture corrective actions for specific actions taken to resolve the complaint, and fees incurred throughout the case process. The system can even integrate with core financial systems in order to ensure any required compensation is delivered directly to the appropriate party.
With so many interactive elements as part of the complaint management process, AINS has put a premium on ensuring our systems are as adaptable as the organization, case, and law demands. eCase eComplaint is a configurable, comprehensive solution to EEO and HR offices looking to better manage and automate their EEO complaints processes. Because eCase eComplaint was built specifically to comply with government rules and regulations, the platform provides robust built-in timelines visible for all phases, built-in documentation and email templates with workflow steps to ensure delivery is on-time as needed, custom dashboards and alerts for approaching deadlines, a portal system to allow for outside users to submit documents and notes straight into the case based on permissions, and default attachments and letter templates. Because of its configurability, all of these features can be modified to meet the guidelines of a specific agency, and empower those involved with a forward-facing solution.
In the future, as HR moves toward a more employee-centric workplace, EEO and HR offices will need the digital automation tools to allow for streamlined processing and quick easy reporting. Doing so will empower employees to pursue the options and solutions that work best for them, aiding in selections such as ADR over a formal complaint process, and allowing agency HR departments to resolve issues before they escalate to less-than-favorable outcomes. Low code technology provides all of the tools necessary to facilitate EEO complaint processing success and ensure a more fair and just workplace.