Taking a Closer Look at Workplace Investigations

external workplace investigations

If your workplace is facing significant issues that are causing discontentment and conflict between employees, there’s no time to delay when it comes to organizing a hard reset. Designed to provide a comprehensive and objective evaluation of what’s going on, workplace investigations are a reliable way to uncover the facts and reveal what underlying issues need to be addressed. Pivot HR partners with organizations when it matters the most, conducting thorough investigations and offering conflict resolution training that gives the tools you need to move forward.

Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into workplace investigations and what you can expect throughout the process. Read on to learn more!

What is a Workplace Investigation

Workplace investigations aim to take a deeper look into the state of a workplace, as well as daily practices, employee relations, standards and guidelines, and more. While there are several things that can trigger a workplace investigation, the three most commons sources are :

  • A bullying/harassment complaint and/or violent conflict
  • Breaches of policy
  • Investigation into interpersonal conflict

Such issues are particularly serious, and require detailed, objective facts, in order the be resolved properly. A workplace investigation allows you to get down to the bottom of the matter quickly, with everyone’s voices being heard in an unbiased manner.

Who is Involved?

The scope of the investigation will vary depending on the nature of the complaint that needs to be addressed, and can either be conducted by an internal HR team or an external party as needed. The most important part of a workplace investigation is that it is handled by an objective party that is trained to conduct such matters diligently and with the utmost care. While minor disputes may be able to be handled in-house quickly and efficiently, a third party is preferable for more major investigations where complaints involve:

  • Complex issues that exceed the training of your HR team
  • Highly sensitive information
  • A potential conflict of interest between the internal investigator and the complainant.

What to Expect

As with above, the specifics of any workplace investigation will vary contingent on the nature of the situation at hand. With that being said, in general, investigators will usually:

  • Explain to all involved parties that the investigation is confidential and why this is important.
  • Inform the respondent of the particulars of the allegation at hand.
  • Interview both the complainant and respondent, as well as witnesses if necessary.
  • Review relevant documentation and/or correspondences (emails, etc).
  • Discern the credibility and viability of all information amassed, and finally,
  • Compile a detailed report outline their conclusions as well as any recommendations as needed.

Due to the extremely thorough nature of each of the steps above, there is an immense benefit to bringing in a third party who is both completely unbiased and unaffected in the long term by any outcome. This allows the investigator to act without reservation and helps to minimize the chance of any outside influence skewing data in any direction. The result is a report that you can trust to be as accurate as possible, and thus empower to act confidently.

Why They’re Necessary

It can be tempting, particularly for small teams that have a familial atmosphere to shun the idea of conducting workplace investigations and try to handle conflict internally. While this may be possible for smaller matters, the ethics and implications of doing so for serious issues like sexual harassment, bullying, breaches of policy and more are dire. The Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as Bill 132 require employers to have a process in place for such complaints to be handled, and such investigations protect both employees and employers during difficult situations. It’s important to remember that the core objective of any investigation is to present facts as they are, without bias or prejudice for the good of all involved.

Create a Better Path Forward Today

If you need assistance conducting a workplace investigation or with implementing changes in the wake of one, Pivot HR is here to help. Based in Vancouver, BC and offering professional assistance in British Columbia as well as Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, our team of HR experts are here to be your objective source for navigating difficult workplace situations with confidence and integrity. Contact us today to learn more.

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