An HR investigation can often take many forms, but it always has in common that it needs to be done correctly.
While some may think that an investigation is nothing more than a formal questioning of people on the topic, many steps need to be taken to ensure that gathered information is accurate and correct.
This includes using evidence effectively, having an objective perspective of things, knowing what kind of behavior constitutes irregular actions for intake purposes, and adequately managing risks of the situation through effective interviewing techniques.
Therefore, without proper training or knowledge about how these types of HR investigations should be managed, you could lose valuable information or face other legal issues down the road.
To help you understand what makes an effective investigation, here are the things that you should consider before conducting your own.
HR Investigation Protocol
Have An Employee Code Of Conduct Policy In Place
First, it is essential to have a proper code of conduct or policy in place to understand beforehand what they can and cannot do.
This is especially necessary if the investigation regards an employee who may be dealing with conflict at home or another personal issue that could be the cause behind their behavior.
Presenting this information shows that you are taking care of your company's reputation and ensures that no one will file any legal action against you for not being forthcoming about your intentions.
Gather All Evidence
Second, gather all potential evidence related to the situation at hand.
If you are conducting the investigation, you must keep any information that could back up whatever claims are being made during questioning or that backs up your claim.
For example, if one of the employees mentions a potential lead on another person who may have more information about what has been happening on-site, don't immediately dismiss it without first checking into the validity of what they are saying.
By keeping all of these pieces of information together and organized, you can prevent confusion later down the line, resulting in missing some essential details about the situation.
Have Proper Documentation In Place
Third, have proper documentation in place like an HR Investigation Report Template to ensure that everything stays unbiased.
When dealing with cases like this, you must avoid any semblance of personal bias or favoritism when it comes to questioning employees and ensuring that everyone involved gets a chance to be heard.
While taking the time to document everything in this format will take up valuable time, it can also help keep your company from being brought up on charges due to negligence.
Gather Specific Details
Fourth, know what information is relevant for intake purposes.
When investigating one of your employees, certain things need to be included in the documentation, such as dates, times, descriptions of events with brief details about what happened and who was involved, etc.
While gathering all of these pieces may seem like a daunting task because you need them all to be consistent, having all of the information in one place makes it easier for your team to see what information is helpful and can help them get to work on determining what truly happened to cause this situation.
Stick To Formalities
Finally, make sure you are handling this investigation professionally.
When conducting an interview or working with someone who has volunteered themselves for questioning, you need to ensure that everything is done formally.
This means no accusations of guilt before anyone has had any time to speak their side of things, no judgmental words or actions during questioning, etc.
By doing these things, employees will trust the company more when they take part in investigations and show that your company stands behind what they are doing to help determine the truth behind the situation.
By ensuring your company follows these steps, you can take advantage of these common best practices when carrying out an HR investigation.
HR Investigation Training
The research assistant should also have an appropriate education level to assist this project successfully.
The following are some minimum requirements that may help build up your team:
Level Of Education
First, the researcher should preferably have at least a bachelor's degree.
If one does not have their bachelor's degree yet but has two years of studies towards it, they are still considered qualified because all of the necessary information will be provided.
Second, the researcher should have strong interpersonal skills.
This is especially important when dealing with employees who are the subjects of an investigation because they may be feeling tense and anxious about what's happening.
By having people on your team who know how to engage in conversation and speak in a respectful yet business-like manner, you can avoid getting yourself into any predicaments that could cost you your job or land you in court for slander or defamation of character.
These requirements will help ensure that every member of your research team will provide practical assistance with this project.
Assemble The HR Investigation Team
One of the things you'll need to consider is how many people you need on your team for this project.
The more people you have, the faster the research will get done, but it can become more of a challenge to ensure everyone is working together smoothly and getting the job done effectively.
Communication Is Paramount
While having a larger team provides more help in completing this task, one should keep in mind that they also need to coordinate and communicate with everyone to ensure that things go off without a hitch.
Another thing you'll want to do when putting together your research team, you'll want to decide where they will be coming from.
You may choose one person who has experience in HR investigations specifically or several different people from different backgrounds who have specific skills that mesh well with the needs of this project.
You can then choose from a pool of applicants who meet the qualifications you're looking for and select an individual to lead each team.
This way, each research team will be able to complete their work completely and thoroughly, so your company ends up with a detailed report detailing everything they found out through their investigation.
Conducting The Investigation
When it comes time to start conducting the investigation, you'll need to be prepared on how it should go about doing so.
Many companies prefer using an interview-style approach that enables both sides to speak without interruption or judgment until all facts are gathered. This will help avoid any issues that could arise from rushing the conversation and prevent either side from hesitating when sharing their insights.
When talking to employees, HR professionals need to be very respectful and open-minded about what they need to say. They should put their personal opinions about what happened aside to provide a clear and unbiased report for both sides.
It would help if you started this by interviewing all witnesses to get their side of the story.
This will help you figure out each individual's angle on what happened so you can compare and contrast everyone's stories.
Interview The Accused
Afterward, it's time to interview the employee accused of misconduct.
This can be a little bit more tricky because they will likely want to defend themselves and deny everything but stay composed and stick to the facts instead.
When conducting an HR investigation, one must remember that they are neutral regarding whom they believe until all of the interviews have been completed and weighed together as pieces of the puzzle.
The final step is to compare each interview with the other to ensure they are consistent and that no one is lying or leaving out important information that could change your perspective on what happened.
Results Of HR Investigation
After doing all of this, you should have all of the facts you need to conclude whether or not someone did something wrong and, if so, what the correct course of action should be.
Once you have a verdict, there is a way to write this report so that it will be able to hold up in court if necessary. Transcripts from all interviews must be included in the final report for review if needed.
The report needs to contain details about where everyone's input came from. This includes stating what the investigation found out and who conducted each interview and where those transcripts can be accessed.
All in all, conducting an HR investigation may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn't have to be when you have people who know exactly what they're doing on your side.
By following all of these steps and having a plan in place beforehand, your company will be able to get all of the information they need while staying professional and responsible.