How to reduce the risks associated with workplace investigation practices?

When faced with a complaint in an organisation, employers will often try and resolve the complaint themselves or will delegate the task to a junior manager. Resolving the matter can take many forms but if not handled correctly it can have significant financial, legal and reputational implications. Some of the most common mistakes that employers often make during the course of an internal workplace investigation can include:

  1. The forgoing of the pre-investigation planning stage and moving straight into investigation.
  2. The investigator chooses to morph the investigation and disciplinary steps into the same process.
  3. The investigator chooses to rely on "untested" information and therefore unduly favours one version of events and ignores discrepancies.
  4. Due to the fact that this is an internal investigation they are unable to establish a process that is perceived as independent and free of bias.
  5. Internal investigations can often be delayed, due to a number of reasons however, this "delay" can often fuel speculation and gossip therefore jeopardising appropriate disciplinary action.

Mistakes in investigations can end up being very costly for the employer and employee. The employer needs to consider what is the best approach and always take into account the needs of the business. One of the most significant considerations for employers is whether to engage an external investigator.

It may not always be appropriate or beneficial for the employer to engage an external investigator however a good investigator will induce confidence for both parties as the findings will be unbiased and independent.

Maighréad Kelly Management Consultant offers a range of supports for employers in the area of HR and Workplace Investigations. Maighréad is an experienced external investigator and is available to carry out investigations into complaints which can arise within an organisation from time to time. For more information on the services that Maighréad offers provide go to www.maighreadkelly.com or check out Maighréad’s experience on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maighreadkelly/