Workplace Investigations: 10 steps to get it right


Investigations can be key in reaching the right decisions, managing risk and limiting damage for a business. Getting them right can be more challenging than often perceived. Getting them wrong can increase damage risk and employee relations.

The 10 steps to getting it right

1. Only investigate when there is a need to
Sound obvious I know, but I often see investigations into allegations that have been admitted, or complaints that can readily be answered. The word “grievance” or “complaint” can at times trigger an investigation before pausing to consider whether one is needed.

2. Determine what the allegation(s) actually are not what they are stated to be
If for example the allegation is sexual harassment, identify what that means and what needs to be established that is relevant. Often this can mean speaking to the person raising the issue. A person may think they are alleging an offence when they are in fact raising another offence.

3. Identify each fact relevant to the alleged offence

4. Collate what evidence (documents and own knowledge) there is relevant to each fact without speaking to any witnesses 

5. Identify the facts that need further evidence and carefully consider whether findings regarding these facts are needed to conclude the investigation

6. Only if necessary, carefully consider who to speak to regarding the facts remaining 

7. Speak to the witnesses identified only about the facts outlined for their comment/ response. Too often too many employees are interviewed on too wide a scope risking employee relations issues

8. Don’t be afraid to ask the question needed. Often especially when the allegation is very serious I see a reluctance to be direct

9. Add the additional evidence to  relevant fact and consider if any of the evidence needs revisiting/ exploring further

10. Decide on balance whether there is a case to answer that merits the appropriate decision making. The purpose of the investigation is to fact find and not to conclude


Tania Tandon, Founder

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