How not to handle a serious workplace allegation: 10 common things businesses do wrong

We last shared with you a scenario of a sexual harassment allegation which was managed across a period of 5 days (during the Christmas period no less) from the time we were invited in through to its conclusion. 

Purpose. People Solutions are huge advocates of due process and understand all too well just how complex these situations can become in the most unexpected of ways. 

Here, we take a look at 10 of the top pitfalls when it comes to workplace investigations:

  1. Not being fair throughout the process (aka procedural fairness or natural justice) such as:
    • not offering a Support Person
    • not sticking to your own HR policies
    • the Respondent (ie. the person who the complaint is made about) needs to understand the allegations before being interviewed – don’t ambush!
    • relying on ‘hearsay’ rather than facts
  2. Promising confidentiality to everyone – as the process unfolds, this may be one commitment you can’t keep
  3. Having a pre-determined outcome and ‘just going through the motions’
  4. Not looking for or considering all of the facts and questioning inconsistencies
  5. Asking leading questions and ‘entrapment’
  6. Not being prepared!! You need a plan and you need to research.
  7. Do you actually need to investigate or is there another way?
  8. Pre-judging – showing bias through questions, language, tone or body language
  9. The Investigator acting as the decision-maker
  10. Taking too long – either to get started or to conclude the investigation

Carefully think about how and who conducts an investigation in your business.

With a range of experiences ‘under the belt’, the team at Purpose. urge any business owner to carefully think about how and who conducts an investigation in your business. The costs are high – investigations are always time-consuming and result in excess non-productive time for more people than you might think. Inevitably stress levels soar and the costs of getting any step of the process wrong will exceed the spend of an independent and skilled investigator.

Workplace Investigation Checklist