Workplace Investigations

HR Resource
October 7, 2013 — 2,687 views  
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Workplace investigations are increasingly getting popular with a greater number of employers feeling the compelling urgency to investigate. There could be different reasons for investigations, ranging from attitude problem to theft and drug abuse. Unless these issues are addressed promptly, the problems for employers go on to compound and then it will become unmanageable. 

Need of Workplace Investigation

The need of workplace investigation arises as the company may find troubles caused by employees forcing them to initiate investigations. Some of the common reasons for the same are substance abuse, attitude problems, harassment complaints, discrimination complaints, vandalism, threats against others, harassment complaints, sabotage, workplace safety, theft, and rules violations among several others. 

No company wants to run into problems, which if unchecked, can lead to serious issues within the company impacting its sustainability. The problem that appears small in the beginning may have grave implications later. So, the workplace investigations are one of the best strategies to combat the problems and nip them in the bud.   

It is important that investigations are conducted impartially and fairly without harming the personnel if they are innocent. It is also important for the investigators to be equipped with a good understanding of relevant laws when dealing with such cases. However, the investigation must be thorough and should not drag on for long. 

Conducting a Fair and Effective Workplace Investigation

Interviewing is a critical aspect of investigations. There are few things to keep in mind before the actual interviews and during the course of interviews. First off, you must stick to the schedule that should be usually tight, so that witnesses come with a clear memory and to conclude the job in time.

Scheduling is important. It should be such that the interviewees do not get the time to talk and discuss among themselves. If the employees talk with each other there is a likelihood of their versions getting distorted and muddled up. Also, the interview list should be short to include the accused and key witnesses.

There are certain things to be kept in mind while in the actual interview. You need to be polite, but not sympathetic. Emotions run high during these times. If the witness starts crying, don’t feel apologetic, but you may offer her a tissue instead. You should also avoid being coercive.  

Documenting the Investigation

When documenting the investigations, the first point to note is to record the statement of the witness or the witnesses and get it signed. It is important to document properly prior to disciplinary imposition. All information must be gathered systematically including evidences prior to their submission to a private attorney or an agency. The document should be filed properly and systematically and tallied with the necessary requisites for a strong case to be made. 

All elements of a just cause should be considered for appropriate level of discipline to be determined. A sample arrangement may include index, disciplinary letter, and background of the employee including their name, address, employment history and prior disciplinary action copies. Once the documents are prepared, they should be double checked to insure that nothing is missing. The merit of the case depends on documentation and casual approach to documentation might ruin the case. 

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