How to prevent fall out from workplace investigation reports

It is critical that the workplace investigation report is perceived as procedurally fair by employees. Research demonstrates that employees will be more likely to accept the outcome of an investigation they do not like, if it is perceived as procedurally fair.

Protocols for procedural fairness in workplace investigations

  • Established procedures for investigation and resolution or reports
  • Consistently following procedures
  • The investigator is perceived as neutral and conducts the investigation in a neutral and unbiased manner
  • The reporting and accused are given plenty of time to have their side of the story heard
  • The investigator considers issues raised by all parties

The purpose of an investigation report

The purpose of the investigation report is to advise the decision maker of the following:

  • Did the alleged misconduct more likely than not occur?
    • And/or
  • Did the alleged misconduct more likely than not occur for an improper purpose?
  • If the alleged conduct occurred, was it a violation of policy?

Investigations may often have two purposes:

  1. Policy determinations – policies can be unclear, investigator needs to understand how the policies have been interpreted in the past.
  2. Legal determinations – should be avoided by non-legal professionals and even if you are a legal professional; avoid being a jury of one.

Tips for writing workplace investigation reports:

  • Start by creating a chronology of events as supported by subjects – use a chart where possible
  • Acknowledge all points of view in the chronology/timeline of events
  • Use neutral reference to all parties e.g., respondent and complainant as opposed to victim and perpetrator.
  • Cite the exact words used by subjects instead of describing what was said or done.
  • Document participation of the employer and all subjects interviewed.
  • Make clear report findings

Please note that it is critical that the above steps are followed to ensure an outcome that is perceived as procedurally fair to all parties.

If you would like more information about our investigation services you can access it here: A resolution workplace investigations or call 1300 ARESOLVE.

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