Insights on Workplace Investigations: How to Properly Conduct One

Posted: 15th September 2017 09:43

When there is a report of wrongdoing at the workplace, it’s very important for the HR department to take it seriously and swiftly take the necessary steps to handle it the proper way. Depending on the allegation and the circumstances, special regulations may have to be followed. How the complaint is handled is crucial; there can be dire consequences if the investigation is not concluded in a correct manner.
For HR officers or management, this can be stressful, and it’s often easy to overlook critical steps or to make the wrong split decisions. Do workplace investigations fall under your responsibilities? Here are some insights on workplace investigations: how to properly conduct one.
Assign an investigator
An investigation needs to be handled with skill, which is why choosing and assigning the right person to handle and lead the investigation is the first important step to take. Depending on the type of investigation, several issues might play an important role in your selection: gender (for example, in sexual abuse allegations), specific skill set, knowledge, access, communicative issues, personal relationships, and so on.
Plan it well – write down what the specific allegations are, what you know, what you should know, who can help you, and so on. List down specific procedures and legal issues. Set goals. Be practical and pragmatic and remain professional.
The interviews
The interviews are crucial to finding out the truth, but they can be tricky. Ensure neutrality and confidentiality, and treat people with respect and consideration. Make a list of questions, but allow the interviewed person to elaborate as much as possible. Be upfront and honest about why the interview is held. The interview could be informal, but should always be professional. It should also be recorded, and the recording transcribed by a good transcription service such as
It’s possible to record the interviews with audio or video, as there are many advantages regarding evidence gathering and reporting. When the interview is recorded, there will also be no question about the ethical behaviour of the person conducting the interview. Beware, however, that a person needs to give consent before being recorded.
Evidence gathering

Evidence gathering can require lots of time and involves the collection of physical and electronic proof of certain actions. Make sure that all evidence is properly stored in a secure place and logged appropriately.
The investigation should be concluded with a detailed report so that proper action can be taken afterwards – which may include disciplinary action against the employee, the suspension or termination of the employee, counseling, or even legal action. Even if the company decides not to take any action, this option should be mentioned in the report, along with the reasons. Investigations need to be done with care; it’s important to do them well.