The key to a productive workforce is the cohesion and teamwork of all its employees, and though most companies strive to achieve this, it is not always so simple in the case of individuals. Some individuals may present troublesome behavior that warrant a workplace misconduct investigation. This conduct includes but is not limited to: harassment and bullying, asset theft, fraud, sexual misconduct and harassment, verbal harassment, payroll abuse, drinking alcohol and other substance abuse. In cases that warrant an investigation it is often important to treat the cases with discretion, nuance, and subtlety. You may consult workplace misconduct investigations in order to garner more information. Conducting an investigation is no small feat which is why it is advised to consult the following key points to assist you.
In assessing the allegation, the relevant HR member presents him/herself as an impartial body that has no stake in the allegation. The primary objective is to assess the nature and implication of the allegation by asking: is the allegation a criminal act? Is there a real need to conduct an investigation? How serious is the allegation? How much time has passed since the incident has occurred? Etc. When assessing the individual parties, it may also be important to address their history within the organization, whether (s)he has a record of such behavior in the past and what is the legal context that colors the nature of the situation.
After assessing the allegation, the next step is to identify whether to hire an external party to conduct the investigation or to appoint an HR member to do so. The nature of the allegation will play a part in this as the more serious an allegation the more necessary it becomes to hire a well versed and trained investigator. Essential points to note could include: The necessity to procure and store evidence, which may include but is not limited to emails, CCTV footage, computer data, and any witnesses to the allegation. To preserve the safety of any potential victims it may even be necessary to place them on paid leave or ensure that the perpetrator and victim do not at any time contact each other.
Conducting the investigation is by far the most important step of the process as it involves the use of tact and nuance. This may include going over CCTV footage, speaking to key witnesses, and uncovering any hidden motives and agendas behind the situation. The investigator needs to present an air of unbiasedness and encourage everyone at hand to be open about the truth, this may take days, or weeks depending on the situation. The investigator needs to be able to sift through extraneous information in order to get to the truth that can be proven or argued as a strong balance of probabilities.
Finally, the analysis stage will include the compilation and careful weighing of the investigator’s findings and verdict of the case. In some cases, the evidence that is collected may be inconclusive, and in this kind of situation it can be that no verdict can be reached. However, if a conclusion can be reached from the compiled report, the investigator has no further involvement in the process and will be separated such that the company can enforce its policies on the wrongdoers using its judgement.