What are the Mistakes that Happen in a Workplace Investigation? How to Conduct One?

The experts have found that a poorly conducted internal investigation can cost a company in financial terms, damaging the image and the reputation of HR professionals tasked with overseeing a probe. Here are the common investigation mistakes:

  1. Failing to plan.
  2. Ignoring complaints.
  3. Delaying investigations.
  4. Losing objectivity.
  5. Being distracted during interviews.
  6. Using overly aggressive interview tactics.
  7. Not conducting a thorough investigation.
  8. Failing to reach a conclusion.
  9. Failing to create a written report.
  10. Failing to follow up with those involved.


  1. Come up with a plan

Many HR departments investigate each employee complaint, so every employer has to mandatorily investigate harassment, retaliation, discrimination, safety and other kinds of complaints. Once the decision has been made, the HR has to immediately begin scheduling interviews. Also, create a plan that answers these questions.

  1. Who will investigate?
  2. What will be investigated?
  3. What evidence needs to be collected?
  4. Who will be interviewed?
  5. Be objective

In the case of corporate investigation, you don’t have the luxury of becoming jaded or of forming opinions before the investigation is finished. You have no right to pass judgment or come up with an opinion on the basis of personal feelings or prior dealings. Never assume until and unless you have facts and data lined up to back up your findings. Many times, the HR individual is way too close to the issue to be objective, and their judgment may be impacted as a result.

  1. Avoid aggressive tactics

Rather than using aggressive tactics, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Focus on asking straightforward questions if you want to get straightforward answers, and you should always be respectful. You can keep the lawsuits at bay if you maintain fairness and respect that is delivered across the board.

  1. Determining witness credibility

When there is an existence of conflicting versions of events in cases of harassment, authorities such as Aequitask suggest that you should use the following factors in order to assess the witness credibility:

  1. Plausibility: Are the witness's facts believable? Do they make sense?
  2. Demeanor: Is the witness telling the truth?
  3. Motive: Does the person have a reason to lie?
  4. Corroboration: Are there any kind of documentations or other witnesses that can support the witness's version of events?
  5. Past record: Does the alleged wrongdoer have any kind of past record of inappropriate conduct?

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