Most business owners hope to never conduct an internal investigation. They are a stressful situation that can put your business’s future at risk. 

However, they can also considerably benefit your business. They allow you to maintain control of the situation while resolving problems for a better future. Establishing a plan is one of the most important actions business owners can take to manage risk in the event of an investigation. 

When to investigate

While HR assesses all complaints they receive from employees, it is the employer’s legal duty to investigate any claims of:

  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Fraud

It is usually these matters that require an internal investigation. 

Taking the proper approach to an investigation

How you conduct an investigation can impact the reputation of your business almost as much as the outcome. That is why it is crucial to craft a detailed plan.

The important factors to consider when planning an investigation, include:

  • How to collect facts: It is necessary to decide exactly how you will go about collecting information for the investigation. Defining a strategy of separating facts from opinions is useful as well.
  • Who will be involved: Designating duties is an efficient way to handle an investigation. You can outline who will manage the investigation, who will collect information and who will conduct interviews. It is also helpful to determine if you will need any additional support from other departments.
  • What to document: It is crucial to document everything including dates, times and names. It may sound tedious, but it is necessary to be thorough. 
  • How to conduct interviews: Interviews are an essential part of the investigation. Preparing appropriate and open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible is critical. Confidentiality is also of the utmost importance to protect both your business and the interviewees.

The responsibilities of internal investigations are difficult for both HR and employers to take on. Making a plan of action can help make them a little easier and manage risk in a more effective manner.