5 Tips for Successful Workplace Investigations
Workplace investigations happen in all types of workplaces. They can be very effective in dealing with conflict, but they can also get off track. With the recent news that the Governor General’s office has brought in a workplace investigator to look into claims of harassment in the workplace, here are some key strategic tips for successful workplace investigations.
- Determine the scope and purpose of the investigation. Ensure that all parties are clear on the issues and allegations as well as the scope of the investigation, so there are no surprises. It is very common for new issues to come up during an investigation, so the employer should prepare for how to deal with those issues as they arise. Like other types of projects “scope creep” can result in delay and increased costs.
- Choose an investigator. Depending on the purpose of the investigation, the employer may conduct its own internal investigation or may retain a specialized outside investigator. Outside investigators help to avoid bias, and lawyers can investigate and provide legal advice, which means the investigation and report can be privileged and confidential.
- Ensure confidentiality and fairness throughout the process. Remind each participant and witness that confidentiality is crucial to an effective workplace investigation. Anyone accused of wrongdoing must be given a full opportunity to respond.
- Consider mediation. While interviews are being conducted, sometimes it becomes clear that there is a way to resolve the conflict. A full investigation and report are not always necessary, and sometimes investigators can act as mediators to get everyone onto the same page.
- After the investigation. All too often, an investigation happens, a report is written, but nothing more is communicated to the participants, especially the witnesses who were interviewed. While confidentiality must be maintained, it is also important to engage and communicate with those who were involved, so that they are not left hanging.
Ensuring an effective and fair investigation process is essential to protecting both the employer and employee. It is also important to keep in mind everyone in the workplace involved in the investigation, to ensure that there is not additional harm created.
This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice, and only provides general information.
Every situation must be considered on its own facts. Need legal advice? Contact us by phone at 604 535-7063 or email [email protected].