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You’ve Conducted an Employee Investigation. Now What?

You’ve Conducted an Employee Investigation. Now What?

Documentation and follow-up are just as important as the investigation itself.

We have previously discussed how to conduct an investigation into employee issues or misconduct. But how you conclude the investigation and close it out it also important. There are best practices for ending a workplace investigation.

Once you have taken all the necessary steps and conducted all interviews, you need to draw a conclusion. Understanding and determining whether the investigation is actually concluded or if it needs further review and what, if any, actions may need to be taken at this point in the process is a crucial step in the process.

Here's a step-by-step guide to conducting a workplace investigation.

Concluding the Investigation

The following considerations should be undertaken for every investigation.

It is always good practice to review all company policies that may relate to the incident or the investigation. This should always be done before any written report is issued. Make sure all evidence is fairly considered, including motives, potential biases, facts, work records, etc. that pertain to the case in order to avoid false assumptions.

Writing the Investigation Report

In formulating a report (verbal or written), the following should always be considered:

  • Was there actual harassment or wrongdoing?
  • How serious is the offense?
  • Is there any history or actions for previous or similar offenses?
  • Are there any federal, state, or local laws that pertain to this offense?
  • What is the work record/history, including previous violations, of the accused employee?
  • Are there any mitigating circumstances that need to be considered?

Need help writing the investigation report? Download the free Investigation Report Template.

It is important that everything be carefully documented, as this documentation may be needed in the event of any future litigation relating to the case. Be careful of how you write the report. Consider not using terms such as “discrimination” or “harassment”, opting instead for broader terms such as “unprofessional” or “violation”.

After the Investigation

Once the report is written, it is time to take action. In accordance with the company policies, discipline can be taken. Be sure to inform the accused of all results and disciplinary actions that will be taken. Make sure that the discipline fits the offense, even considering disciplines such as transfers, counseling, warnings, suspension, demotion and even termination.

Follow up with all involved parties as to the outcome of the investigation. That said, you only need to inform anyone who was actually involved in the case. It is not necessary to notify other employees. In the case of the victim, let them know the case was fully investigated and appropriate action was taken.

A thorough investigation will not only identify issues and address problems before they get out of control, it also helps to protect the employer in the event legal action is taken.