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HomeResearchHow to Run a Successful Workplace Investigation

How to Run a Successful Workplace Investigation

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Workplace investigation is a common process among many employers since it’s the primary thing they do whenever they want to hire people.

The HR department usually conducts some detective work through gathering evidence on prospective employees and then doing interviews. However, when a problem arises at work, an investigation needs to be done to figure out what happened and to come up with a solution for dealing with the issue before it erupts into a scandal and destroys the company’s image.

With this in mind, the following steps show how to conduct an investigation at work successfully:

Determine Whether to Investigate and Take Immediate Action If Necessary

Before embarking on the investigation, you need first to determine whether you have to carry out an investigation or not. For instance, if the problem seems not to be a major one, you may sensibly arrive at a decision of not carrying out an investigation.

However, it’s best to conduct an investigation. If the problem is more serious than it seemed, failure to investigate can land you, the HR professional, in trouble and cause workplace problems. Mostly, you just can’t tell how rife a problem is until you do some investigations here and there.

The situation might force you to act immediately, even before the investigation commences since it may damage the reputation of your company (if the situation ends up becoming precarious). For instance, if an employee has been accused of theft of important office files or sexual assault, you as the HR point person would most likely want to temporarily suspend the accused, with pay, while you investigate the claims.

Nonetheless, care must be taken not to jump to conclusions or lead the accused employee(s) to believe that you’ve already reached a decision.

1. Plan The Investigation

Planning is crucial

It has now reached the point where an investigation is required. You may need an experienced investigator or one who is trained. The investigator must be deemed to be impartial by those involved in the matter at hand and always has to be professional. If there’s someone at the workplace who can do this work superbly, then he or she can have the job. If there’s no in-house person, you can hire from outside. You (as the HR person) can also be the investigator!

Afterward, it’s time to put your thoughts in order. Collect any information that you have, for example, any complaints, previously written warnings or threatening letters. Using this information, think about those you will interview and the questions you will ask. Are there extra documents that other employees or supervisors might possess? Are there any witnesses?

Carry Out Interviews

The main objective of each investigation is to collect information. The most straightforward way to do so is through asking various people questions.

Some investigations, on the other hand, involve 2 interviews; one of the employees accused of gross misconduct and the other of the victim. Most times, you may also need to interview any witnesses. Whenever you get the opportunity to interview anyone, make sure you try to extract as much information as you can by mainly asking open-ended questions.

2. Gather The Evidence And Do An Evaluation

Evaluate the evidence gathered

Most investigations will mostly rely on documents like emails, personnel files, and company guidelines among others. Moreover, other kinds of investigations will entail the collection of other types of evidence for instance weapons, drugs, and stolen materials.

With this in mind, the most difficult part of most investigations (particularly if witnesses contradict one other) is determining what transpired. There exist some proven techniques of establishing the exact truth. We use these techniques in our day to day lives so as to figure out why some things have occurred. For instance, you will want to take into consideration, whose conduct was more convincing, which story is the most sensible, or which person has the intention to deceive you.

Furthermore, in most scenarios, you will end up giving up and admitting that you don’t possess adequate information to make a final decision.

Take The Necessary Action

Once you know what transpired, you’ll have to decide on which next step you have to take. If there was any gross misconduct, you’d have to take disciplinary actions immediately to steer clear of any legal liability for the guilty employee’s behavior and to protect your company’s image.

When handling these types of situations, you should take into account several factors, for example, the severity of the actions and how you dealt with the same problems previously.


The above are the steps that to be taken when carrying out a successful investigation at your workplace. If you have any problems with your resume, you can get assistance from various professionals who offer resume writing services.

About Author:

Charles is a career mentor, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Charles is a lead expert at Professional Resume Solutions. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

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