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10 Dos and Don'ts for Conducting Workplace Investigations

  1. DON’T rush. Create a plan for your investigation by identifying what issue(s) you are trying to resolve, what documents to review and who to interview.
  2. DO remind involved parties of their obligations which include confidentiality, non-retaliation, the need for truthfulness and candor, and consequences for not cooperating.
  3. DON’T make assumptions. As an investigator, you must remain impartial and avoid rushing to judgment. If you don’t think you can do this, find someone who can.
  4. DO treat all parties with respect. Studies show that employees who feel they are treated unfairly during their employment are five times more likely to file a claim.
  5. DON’T promise confidentiality. You can assure the involved parties that you will treat all information with the utmost sensitivity and keep the number of people involved to a minimum, but you can’t promise confidentiality.
  6. DO trust your instincts. When making credibility assessments, if something doesn’t make sense, isn’t logical, or just sounds “off,” it probably is.
  7. DON’T lose control. It won’t be long before your boss, the subject and the complainant want to know what is going on and when you’ll be done. Remember this is your investigation. Don’t compromise the the process to meet someone else’s timetable.
  8. DO consider patterns of behavior or similar situations that have occurred in your organization when determining appropriate remediation.
  9. DON’T forget to create a close-out report that includes allegation, applicable policies, parties interviewed, evidence reviewed, facts identified, conclusions reached and actions taken.
  10. DO follow-up with the parties a few weeks after an investigation to ensure the offending behavior has stopped, no retaliation has occurred and remediation has been successful.
Deb Muller
Deb Muller

Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, the employee relations case management solution that companies trust to help them track, investigate, and analyze employee issues the right way.