• Nicki

The art of a good investigation

In this blog I'll be talking about investigations.... Workplace investigations.


If you are a people manager in a business and you haven't already been involved in an investigation, just wait...... Investigations occur in workplaces for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps there was a workplace health and safety incident where someone was hurt. Or maybe a customer complained that they received subpar service or product. A bullying claim, an unfair dismissal, a shouting match in the carpark... They can (and I would argue, should!) be triggers for conducting an investigation.


Investigations, when conducted properly, are designed to get right to the guts of an issue, an incident or an allegation, and attempt to discover:

  1. What actually happened

  2. Is there any evidence the proves what actually happened

  3. Were there missed opportunities to rectify the situation

  4. Who were the people involved, and did their behaviour and actions line up with expectations

  5. How could the situation or event be prevented from occurring again

As a business owner, you can appoint an in-house investigator. Usually this is someone from the HR department, Quality or Compliance Team, or a member of management. There are also many external organisations that can come and conduct a completely impartial investigation (like Peoplee) so that you are able to be assured, and assure any parties involved, that it is a candid and unbiased process.


If you decide to tackle the complex task of Workplace Investigations on your own, then be prepared to spend a great deal of time interviewing and documenting. A good investigation relies upon excellent interviewing skills, an ability build rapport with all parties, and excellent note-taking skills. Sure there's much more that you need to be great at (legal obligations, standards etc), but those are the basics to get you through the nitty gritty.


Ultimately, it's not worth the risk that comes with a poorly executed workplace investigation. If not done correctly, you can end up in court, fined, and depending on the circumstance - even facing criminal proceedings.


Peoplee recommend seeking expert advice, when faced with a difficult workplace situation. Whether that be a lawyer, a HR consultant or a certified private investigator, it's not something that should be DIY'd.

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