HR Investigations play an essential role in resolving workplace conflicts. Although it is not the most fun topic, it is absolutely crucial to talk about. Imagine an employee comes in with a complaint. What do you do if you’re a small business owner and do not have an HR department? Let me give you some tips on where to start -
1. Take any necessary action immediately
After hearing about the complaint, take a moment and think about what needs to be done NOW. You may need to send someone home for the day, adjust schedules, or temporarily suspend an employee. The investigations must be done timely to ensure that the parties are able to remember the facts.
2. Determine investigation game plan -
It is important to take some time and organize your thoughts around the investigation. This is where you need to decide who is included, what witnesses need to be interviewed, and collect the appropriate evidence. The evidence could include: personnel files, email messages, company policies, etc.
3. Ask the right questions
The core questions to ask must be fact-finding. It is important to go into the investigation with a list of your top questions. It is only natural to go into it and have additional follow up questions that come up. Additionally, there could be more witnesses/participants mentioned so you may need to add more to your list to interview.
4. Take action
After evaluating the evidence, you need to decide what happened and what to do with the conclusion. If you conclude that wrongdoing has occurred, you will need to determine the appropriate disciplinary action.
5. Document the findings
It is very important to take notes during the investigation so that you can properly document afterwards. There must be a written summary with the names and titles of participants, date, and time on it.
6. Communicate Results
The most important final step is to follow up with a complainant to let them know that their concerns were heard. This is the opportunity to thank them for bringing their concerns to your attention. Additionally, this is when you would tell them that a thorough investigation was conducted and the appropriate course of action was taken.
While it is not easy, a well done internal investigation is key to ensure that you protect your employees and your business. When conducting a proper investigation, you should never go into it unprepared, delayed, or close minded. If you follow the above steps closely, you will ensure fairness, compliance, and transparency in your business.