Top tips for minimising risk when carrying out an investigation
8th November, 2023
Workplace complaints, particularly those involving serious allegations of misconduct, bullying and harassment and discrimination can be tricky to investigate; navigating complex issues often in highly emotive circumstances. Making sure that the investigation is carried out effectively, efficiently, objectively and without causing undue additional aggravation is of the utmost priority.
Top tip number 1: Choose your investigator wisely
This may seem obvious but it is incredibly important and there are a few considerations to make when picking an investigator:
- It needs to be someone who has had training on how to conduct an investigation
- It needs to be someone who is independent to the issues and more senior than the people involved
- It needs to be someone who has the time to do the investigation. This is crucial and probably the single most important piece of advice.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person making a complaint. You have raised a grievance about being bullied at work. The bullying is making you ill. You are stressed, not sleeping and not eating. An investigator is appointed and they tell you that they have a deadline on a project that they are working on and they will try and fit you in to their diary over the next couple of weeks. The meeting does take place, but 3 weeks later. You have a good meeting and start to feel a bit better in the knowledge that something is happening. But you hear nothing for a couple of weeks. Then when asking for an update, you get an out of office in response; the investigator is now off for two weeks. Meaning two more weeks of uncertainty, two more weeks of stress and two more weeks of inaction.
We see cases like this regularly. Oftentimes they result in employees becoming too unwell to work from the overwhelming stress caused. A potentially avoidable scenario if the investigator is able to act promptly and provide peace of mind by demonstrating that they are treating the complaint seriously and working swiftly to reach a conclusion.
Failing to do so will affect your working relationship and can often lead to an increased risk of dissatisfaction in any outcome, and potential Employment Tribunal claims.
How can we help
At Ward Hadaway we have a team of objective experienced investigators who can provide bespoke, interactive training, to help upskill your team equipping your staff with the tools and knowledge to investigate complaints of any nature.
Our team are also able to carry out investigations on your behalf with the ability to act independently and efficiently to get the bottom of issues without the added emotion or aggravation that can arise when investigating long serving team members or close colleagues. The depth of experienced investigators in our team ensures that we are able to provide someone who can make themselves available to fit in with your timescales.
If you would like to receive more information about training, or if you would like our team to carry out an investigation on your behalf please get in touch with Caroline Shafar or another of our expert investigators.