A professional investigation helps an employer defend against legal liability and can send a message to employees that they work for an ethical company. However, whether the workplace investigations, from fact-finding to writing reports, defend the company and limit your legal liability or blow up into an incredible, embarrassing mess (that incurs even greater liability) may depend largely upon HOW the investigations are conducted and how your Supervisors and Managers conduct themselves both during and after the investigation.
When a complaint is received, or the employer becomes aware of a potentially problematic situation like bullying and discrimination in the workplace, the employer is on notice that there may be a problem. However, since many companies do not have a person who does workplace investigations as their job and the few persons pressed into service as investigators are often untrained; an untrained person trying to handle an investigation has the potential to escalate a small problem into a bigger problem.
Many employers struggle to gather information during witness interviews in workplace investigations. Many employees, for a variety of reasons, are reluctant to be involved and can be less than forthcoming. Friends of employees and those accused of an offense are often downright angry and vengeful. In investigations, to meet employer obligations, it is crucial that interviews are structured to capture and gather all available accurate information, notwithstanding employee emotions that are often running high.
Even routine investigations can uncover unexpectedly ugly aspects of the people and/or even of the company so untrained investigators even operating under the best, most routine of circumstances may not do nearly enough to uncover the problem, be easily dissuaded from doing anything at all or not protect complainants and witnesses from being retaliated against.
Wherever there are employees, there are employee relations issues. Every company will inevitably encounter times when they must conduct an internal investigation.
Knowing how to conduct an internal investigation in regard to a complaint, an accident, or upon receipt of reports of misconduct like bullying and discrimination in the workplace or even in regard to a performance situation, is one of the most critical skills every manager, supervisor and certainly, every HR professional needs in today’s workplace.
Learning on the job can be costly in a number of ways to the employer, not just in attorney fees or judgments, but also in loss of employees, damage to morale, vicious gossip and damage of reputations and loss of productivity that can take years to repair.
Years of Experience: 20+ years
Areas of Expertise: Human Resource Development, Performance Management, and Conflict Management
Teri Morning, MBA, MS, SHRM-SCP, is President of Hindsight Human Resources, LLC. and specializes in solving company “people problems.”
Teri also sources software solutions for compensation and performance management.
Twenty+ years human resource and training experience in a variety of fields, including retail, distribution, architectural, engineering, consulting, manufacturing (union), public sector and both profit and non-profit companies.
Teri has enjoyed consulting with employers on their problems and trained managers and employees for over 20 years, meeting and working with employees from all types of businesses.
In addition to a MBA, Teri has a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development with a specialization in Conflict Management.
Teri was certified by the State of Indiana in mediation skills, Teri is certified in Project Management and IT Management, qualified as a Myers-Briggs practitioner and holds the SHRM certification of a Senior Certified Professional.View all trainings by this speaker