The timeliness and efficiency of internal investigations performed by human resources professionals are crucial to help companies act appropriately when they face allegations of wrongdoing. In addition, establishing an efficient and fair internal complaint resolution process will make it much more likely that employees will come forward with information on potential wrongdoing when they have it, rather than allowing the matter to worsen or reporting it elsewhere.
Below are some of the most common problems or issues businesses tend to have with their HR investigations:
- Insufficient planning: Every investigation should begin with some thorough planning of how you’ll proceed. It can be tempting to spring to action when reports come through, and yes, time is of the essence. But it is also crucial to be prudent with the methods used in investigating a claim. Consider who will be interviewed, who will do the interviewing, what you need to know and how you can protect the confidentiality of the process.
- Insufficient documentation: Document everything when performing internal investigations. Take notes on all meetings and interactions, collect names of witnesses, and document write-ups when you take action.
- Difficult witnesses: If you have witnesses who are hesitant to cooperate with your investigation, this could make matters difficult for your company. Make sure the witness knows that it is crucial for the health of your company to get all the information on a matter. Be reasonable in the steps you take to attempt to get them to cooperate, but still take charge when interviewing.
- Delineation of responsibilities: It’s a good idea to separate the fact finders from the decision makers. If you run a company, have your HR person conduct the investigation and present their findings to you, allowing you to make the decision you feel best suits your company.
- Protecting confidentiality: Keep everything on a need-to-know basis as part of your investigation, While you cannot promise complete confidentiality, you can at least ensure that information on the investigation will not get out to people who do not need to know all the details. You can tell a witness their identity will not be revealed unless absolutely necessary, and that you will inform them if that changes.
For tips and guidance on running more effective internal investigations, speak with a skilled whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group.