Step-by-Step Guide on How to Conduct Effective Workplace Investigations
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Conduct Effective Workplace Investigations.
A workplace investigation is an activity conducted by a company to investigate and analyze a specific event that has occurred. Workplace investigations are often conducted by companies when there is suspicion of misconduct or other illegal activities occurring within the organization.
Workplace investigations can be stressful for employees, supervisors, and managers because they can uncover issues such as discrimination, abuse, or other misconduct that may not be widely known but needs to be addressed.
While an investigation may feel like an attack at first, it’s actually a good thing for all involved because it brings issues to light so they can be resolved and trust restored. A workplace investigation does not need to bring stress into your work environment; instead, they should foster a culture of trust and honesty so you can continue working productively with your colleagues in the future.
Here are some tips on how you can conduct effective workplace investigations:
Establish a Culture of Honesty and Transparency
A workplace investigation is not always necessary and could be avoided if employees were more transparent with their supervisors.
If you want to avoid workplace investigations, you need to create a culture of honesty and transparency so that your employees feel comfortable being open and honest with one another. This can happen when employees feel accepted, appreciated, and valued by their co-workers, as well as their supervisor.
When employees feel cared for and know that they have a voice, they are going to be less likely to feel the need to engage in misconduct, such as stealing from the company, or be reticent about speaking up when they see misconduct happening around them.
Set Clear Expectations and Communication Channels
When you set clear expectations for employees about what is expected of them and what is expected of them by their co-workers and supervisors, it helps create a culture of honesty and transparency.
Employees should know what is considered acceptable and what is not acceptable within the organization, as well as know how to report issues, concerns, and suspicions they have about other employees or managers. When you set clear expectations, you are also communicating that you care about your employees and want them to feel comfortable coming forward when they have issues, but you also want them to know what is expected of them so they can avoid issues in the first place.
Before you even begin to conduct your workplace investigation, you need to define the scope of the investigation to avoid going off track and wasting time, energy, and resources.
You can decide to investigate a single employee or a group of employees, a single incident or a series of incidents, or a specific department or section within your organization. You can also decide how far back in time the investigation will go. The further back in time you want to go with your investigation, the more work you are going to have to do as more information may have been lost or destroyed over time.
Next, you need to determine what your goals are for the investigation. Why are you conducting an investigation? What are you trying to determine or prove with the investigation? What are you hoping to find out? What questions do you hope to answer? The clearer you are about what you are investigating and why, the easier it will be to stay on target with your investigation and avoid getting sidetracked.
Select the Investigator(s)
Once you have defined the scope of your investigation, you need to decide who will conduct the investigation and what their qualifications are.
While you could conduct the investigation yourself, most times you will want to bring in a third-party investigator (someone outside of your organization) to conduct the investigation. You can choose from many different types of investigators, such as an independent investigator, a private investigator, or a third-party investigator.
Whichever type of investigator you decide to bring in, make sure they are qualified and have experience conducting workplace investigations. You want to make sure that your investigation is conducted properly so you can trust the findings. When deciding who will conduct the investigation, you also need to consider what biases and/or relationships they have that could influence their findings.
Prepare Interviewing Strategies and Questions
Once you have decided what you are investigating, what your goals are for the investigation, and who will conduct the investigation, you need to prepare your interview strategies and questions.
Your interview strategies and questions should be based on your goals for the investigation. You want to make sure you ask questions that are relevant to your investigation so you can get the answers you are looking for. You do not want to ask questions that are too vague or open-ended that they would get you no answers. You also don’t want to ask questions that are too specific that they could be easily answered.
Make sure you have a wide range of questions prepared so you have plenty of options to choose from, but also have some questions that are open-ended. Make sure to use a variety of different interview strategies and questions for each person you interview. While you may have a specific set of questions for one person, you may have a different set of questions for another person. This way, you cover all your bases and get the information you are looking for.
Hold the Interview(s)
Once you have prepared your interview strategies and questions, it’s time to hold the interviews. Depending on the type of workplace investigation you are conducting, the interviews you need to conduct could be one-on-one, one-on-few, or one-on-many.
It’s important to remember that the people you interview are under no obligation to cooperate with you and are not required to disclose anything they do not want to disclose. It is important to remember that you are conducting an investigation, not an interrogation. Interrogations make people nervous because it feels like an attack, whereas an interview where you are seeking information feels more like a conversation.
Make sure to take some time to prepare before each interview so you feel connected and are ready to go with your interview strategies and questions. Make sure you are relaxed and ready so you can receive the information you need from the interview. Stay focused, be kind, and be professional. You want to make sure that the interview stays on track and gets the information you need.
Finally, you need to wrap up your workplace investigation. This is what will help ensure that the investigation was effective because it will help bring closure to the situation. When you wrap up the investigation, you need to recap what you discovered, what you learned, and what you plan to do moving forward as a result of the investigation.
You want to make sure that all your employees know what happened, what was discovered, and what the company is going to do moving forward as a result of the investigation. This way, everyone feels informed and included, and they can move forward with a clean slate knowing that the issues were addressed and the organization is moving in a positive direction. Plus, wrapping up the investigation will help you learn from it so you can make any necessary improvements and avoid conducting another investigation in the future.
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