How to Investigate an Incident in a Workplace
The HR Manager’s Job
Although the primary function of a human resources department is to recruit and train personnel, there are many situations in the workplace that HR has to deal with, including ethics breaches and company policy violations. From employee conflicts to harassment and embezzlement, HR handles talking to employees in the event potential violations have taken place.
How to Conduct an HR Investigation
Employee relations investigations are common in cases in which one of the people feels bullied or there is a quarrel arising as a result of two different working styles. It’s frequently optimal simply to have a quick chat with both of them and let it go. Not every human resources situation requires an HR investigation or thoroughly investigating workplace complaints. In the event that one believes an employee has committed a crime, there is a series of steps that must be taken, along with an HR investigation protocol.
In the case that there is a continuing situation causing harm to the company, such when investigating theft in the workplace that is ongoing, the HR manager will have to act right away. Such situations could include abusing a coworker, suspicious behavior in the workplace resembling the acceptance of bribes to give third parties good deals to the company’s detriment, and in the case the person impedes work being performed at the office. In any case, it is always best to remain professional. It is not a good idea to be hostile towards individuals in a human resources investigation, especially if there is no evidence.
How to Conduct an Investigation in the Workplace
Conducting an HR investigation involves the HR manager selecting an investigator. In the case that trained investigators can be found among companies’ employees for HR workplace investigations who are impartial and do not work closely with the supposed perpetrator, that would be an optimal option for the company, especially from a financial perspective. However, if no such person is available, an outside investigator must be brought in, which will incur a greater cost to the company than an in-house employee. However, the most important thing is that a proper, conclusive investigation is conducted. The human resources investigation process then involves interviews being conducted with the people relevant to the incident, the collection of evidence, the gathering of documents, evaluation of the evidence, appropriate action taking, filing a human resources investigation report in summary of all of the aforementioned, and then updating everyone in regards to the conclusion.
With an interest to maximize security, many companies utilize workplace investigation software. Such programs can recognize patterns of abnormal behavior as well as aid the investigator in getting to the bottom of a potential policy violation situation. As for the company itself, it must also ensure that it does not violate any laws. While it can legally view an employee’s public social media profile, it still cannot request his or her social media passwords. This is grounds for employee monitoring lawsuits.