A workplace investigation (because of theft, allegations of sexual abuse, or any other serious misconduct) is a serious undertaking – a lot can depend on the outcome, and it can have some serious consequences. Hence, whilst it’s a project most people would try to avoid, it’s a necessary task that needs to be done with the utmost care.
One way of ensuring success is to ensure that you avoid the most common mistakes; by avoiding these pitfalls, you’ve already won half the battle. Do you need to get to the bottom of a workplace incident? Here are some common errors to avoid when facilitating a workplace investigation.
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The common attitude (unfortunately too common) of “I’ll get to it when I have time” is certainly not appropriate when a serious accusation has been made. Never delay the investigation of a complaint or accusation because it could have serious negative consequences. It’s probably impossible to get to the bottom of it right away, but you should immediately put the right measures in place. Never delay.
Using the wrong investigator
Your investigator should not be biased; preferably, they should have nothing to do with the people involved and consider all issues without any prior knowledge. To ensure that the investigator is informed, they can assist specialists who understand the issues better. In any case, choose the investigator wisely.
Not preparing enough
An investigation has to be planned carefully. What exactly do you need to know? What are the best means of obtaining the information you need? How can you deal with issues of confrontation and witness accounts without having emotions flare-up? Prepare, and do so meticulously. When having interviews, make sure to record them and have them transcribed professionally by services like .
Not following up
During the investigation, some issues may come to light that wasn’t known about previously. Be sure to follow up on these so that you can receive confirmation. Never accept one source only.
Not maintaining confidentiality
Please keep it confidential. This is not only good for the sake of the people involved, but it’s a practical measure that should be taken for the investigation to have the best possible outcome.
Here’s one more mistake companies may make – it’s a severe one: thinking the case is closed without considering there might be backlash or retaliation. Disgruntled employees may go to court, appeal the decision, or raise further trouble in several ways. Whilst they may be the trouble-makers, the company must stay on top of these situations and understand it’s just something they have to deal with. Handle the investigation carefully and avoid mistakes; it’s not a guaranteed way to success, but it guards against failure. It’s a battle half won.