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Workplace Investigations: A Best Practices Roundup and Introducing "A Workplace Investigator's Toolkit"

Employers know that complaints of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and many other kinds of misconduct can and do occur at any time, and organizations must be prepared to conduct fair and impartial investigations. Objective and impartial fact-finding is a prerequisite to taking appropriate and meaningful action. An organization must know the merit of any given allegation to effectively resolve the underlying issues.

In the past 25+ years, EPS consultants have performed thousands of employee complaint investigations and are skilled in the complicated and often litigation-bound issues organizations and institutions face when an investigation is required. Our consultants have faced every type of complaint – harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and many other kinds of misconduct. Our consultants have often served as effective fact witnesses and or investigations are consistent with the guidance outlined in ISO/TS 37008.

We've shared our investigations expertise and best practices in addition to teaching other human resources and employee relations professionals how to conduct sound investigations, and have recently introduced on-demand public investigations courses that cover the fundamentals of conducting workplace investigations.

Investigations Best Practices Roundup

We've rounded up five articles that illustrate best practices in investigations and are the foundation of our new, public, on-demand courses.

We distill four seemingly obvious, yet often overlooked, ways to get it wrong before, during and after an investigation. 
In most instances, an internal investigation will not uncover illegal activity, but rather potential policy violations. On occasion, an internal investigation will reveal potential criminal activity. There are many considerations in deciding whether to involve law enforcement in a workplace matter and we examine when and how to partner with law enforcement.
Outside investigators are skilled in asking the appropriate, probing questions and conveying the acquired facts to decision makers. One important factor to consider at the outset of an investigation is determining whether an investigation conducted by this investigator can be protected by the attorney-client privilege and therefore not discoverable in any future litigation, and if so, how?
We examine the special considerations involved in investigating sexual harassment claims while ensuring the dignity of the parties, appropriately handling the potential involvement of law enforcement, attorneys and even parents, and assessing credibility in these complex situations.
You've never hired an outside investigator before, but the time has come. How do you confidently hire one and what can you do to ensure a solid outcome?


 Introducing “A Workplace Investigator’s Toolkit”

Public, On-demand Courses, HRCI/SHRM Certified

We have taken our 25+ years of investigation experience - literally 1000's of investigations conducted - and distilled those experiences into two courses designed to build the fundamental skills of human resources investigators. Each course is HRCI and SHRM certified for one-hour PDC, is highly interactive, and allows the learner to move through the course at a pace that is conducive for them and at a place and time of their choosing.

This interactive course on the fundamentals of conducting workplace investigations discusses the importance of an investigation, how to prepare for and conduct interviews, how to break down conclusory statements, and how to properly document an investigation.
Using a case study, the learner will gain practical knowledge on how to determine which witnesses to interview and how to draft objective interview questions for the Complainant, Subject, and Witnesses. The learner will also become more skilled at properly documenting an investigation, including learning strategies for effective investigation report writing.
This interactive course builds on the fundamentals of conducting workplace investigations and discusses common challenges investigators face from managing challenging witnesses to credibility determinations. The course also explores how to recognize and interrupt investigator bias and provides practical guidance to addressing investigation challenges.  
Using a case study, the learner will gain practical tools for managing reluctant or difficult witnesses. The learner will also dig deeper into understanding how their own potential biases could impact an investigation and gain practical skills for interrupting such biases during the investigative process. Finally, the learner will also become more skilled at making credibility determinations and understanding how to weigh the different factors.