the best way to conduct a workplace investigation

An investigation is a process that aims to uncover the truth in a specific circumstance. It’s essentially an objective and unbiased look at a set of facts.

Conducting an investigation with as little bias as possible is important because any conclusions you draw from the investigation directly impact your company’s future. The way you conduct an investigation will affect how you uncover the truth and what conclusions you can draw from it.

Depending on your organization and the nature of the issue being investigated, there are various ways to approach a workplace investigation. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses depending on your circumstances, but by testing different methods and keeping these considerations in mind, you can discover the truth while protecting yourself from potential legal or reputational risks.

Always start with the facts

An investigation needs to be based on facts. It’s tempting to jump straight into witness statements and details about what was said, but without the facts, you’re not starting with a solid foundation. If you don’t have the facts, you can’t be objective.

It’s also very difficult to get to the bottom of the root cause of the issue if you don’t have a good grasp on the facts. It’s important to get the facts correct. If you don’t, you risk making the wrong decision based on incorrect information. If you make a bad decision, you could end up looking poorly and potentially hurting your business. If there are legal implications, getting the facts right is critical. If you don’t have accurate information about what happened, you risk making very serious errors.

Determine when you need witness statements

Witness statements are crucial to revealing the facts and discovering what happened. They’re a chance to get your employees to say out loud all the details of the incident and what they know about it.

If the investigation relates to an allegation of harassment, discrimination or another potentially illegal or harmful incident, you’ll definitely want to obtain witness statements. But not all investigations require witness statements. Many investigations have nothing to do with the law, strictly speaking. For example, if you want to find out why sales have dropped in a particular region, you don’t need witness statements. If you’re looking to uncover facts purely for organizational reasons and there are no legal implications, witness statements may not be necessary.

This doesn’t mean you should skip witness statements in every situation. It all depends on your circumstances. If you’re conducting an investigation that doesn’t involve the law but you want to get the most out of it, getting witness statements can help you get important insights you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Hold a meeting to discuss what happened and why

After you’ve gathered the facts, you can start tying them together and discussing why certain things happened. In some cases, it may be appropriate to have an informal discussion with the relevant parties to talk about what happened and why. This might be the case if the issue was an accident and there was no malicious intent behind it.

You may also want to have a discussion if the issue is delicate or the people involved are extremely nervous. A discussion is different from an interview or witness statement. It’s less structured and less formal. This can be helpful when people are upset or nervous. It’s also more conducive to getting people to open up and talk freely about what happened. For example, you might want to have a meeting to discuss why sales have dropped in one region. Or you might want to discuss what happened during a big project and why it failed. Or you might want to discuss why there’s an uptick in complaints from customers.

Decide whether you need an investigator or Coaching

Depending on the nature of the investigation, you may want to bring in an outside source to help you discover the truth. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, but two of the most common are coaching and hiring an investigator.

Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and the circumstances of your investigation, one of these methods may be a better fit for your situation than the other. If you decide to hire an investigator, it’s important to understand the difference between a fact-finding investigation and a legal investigation.

A fact-finding investigation is what you’re doing when you’re trying to solve a workplace issue that doesn’t involve the law. A legal investigation, on the other hand, is what you do if you think there are legal implications or if you need to prepare for litigation.

Hiring a third-party investigator

An investigator is an outside service that comes into your company to dig into the facts of an issue you’re trying to solve. They’re usually employed by companies dealing with messy lawsuits. However, some companies use them pre-litigation as a way to avoid litigation.

You can hire a third-party investigator to conduct an investigation for you. This is often a good idea when the issue you’re trying to solve is delicate or complicated and you want to get as much unbiased information as possible. It’s also a good idea if your company is facing significant legal implications and you want to get ahead of the curve by collecting as much information as early as possible.

A third-party investigator will come in and use their expertise to dig into the facts, often with the strictest level of professionalism and objectivity. They’ll be able to get the information you might not have been able to get on your own, and they’ll do it in a way that’s as neutral as possible.

Leveraging an in-house investigator

If your company has an in-house investigator, you can use that person to conduct your investigation. They can come in and help you get the information you need and give you a low-cost solution to gaining insight into a work issue.

An in-house investigator can be very helpful in certain instances. They’re often quite skilled at getting information out of people and conducting investigations. In-house investigators can be particularly useful when the issue you’re trying to solve is complicated and you want to approach it from as many angles as possible. An in-house investigator can also be a good choice if you need to conduct the investigation quickly and cheaply. If you have someone on staff who can tackle the investigation, it won’t cost you anything extra in terms of money.


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