Mark Flynn, MSEC Workplace Investigations
Number 5. Lack of Experienced In-House Investigators: Investigations get complicated based on a variety of factors. Complications develop quickly. If your organization does not have a trained and experienced investigator in HR or upper management, it’s time to consult a professional.
Number 4. High Profile Complaints: Whether the subject matter for investigation represents issues of public concern, your organization is in the spotlight for whatever reason, or the allegations involved are just plain sensational (read “newsworthy”) engaging the right outside investigator can ensure that the matter is conducted to withstand heightened scrutiny.
Number 3. Senior Management is Implicated: It’s very difficult to overcome the perception that the investigation process is rigged when the HR manager investigates the alleged misconduct of the CEO or other high-ranking individuals. A professional investigator dedicated to a consistent process can deflect claims of manipulation.
Number 2. Employee Apprehensions: Employees can be hesitant about participating in workplace investigations because they fear retaliation might occur, perceive bias in the process, or would just prefer to stay out of the whole controversy. Also, if HR has previously investigated aspects of the current issue or complaints involving the same employees then strong perceptions can develop. Employees often feel that the organization is taking the matter more seriously when a third-party is brought in; demonstrating that the employer is dedicated to “doing the right thing,” regardless of history.
Number 1. Time Constraints: And the number one reason employers engage an outside workplace investigator — the simple lack of time available to experienced HR personnel to devote to the project! The need for an investigation usually develops without notice. Investigations done well are time intensive. Appropriate workplace investigations are prompt, impartial, and thorough. Prompt cannot mean hurried. Moreover, the necessity of appropriate workplace investigations to inform corrective action and reduce potential liability for employers is well supported by legal authority. It can seem like a Herculean task for even experienced HR professionals to get the job of investigation done right amidst the landslide of their regular duties.
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