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Hey, do you have a minute? I have something I need to tell you.”   When HR professionals hear these words, they know two things for sure – it will take much longer than a minute, no matter the topic, and depending on what you hear, you may need to be prepared to quickly launch an internal investigation. 

In addition to usually being the center for talent acquisition, training, development, compensation, benefits, employee engagement, and payroll, the Human Resources office is where employees, supervisors, and managers come to share suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Savvy HR professionals know when approached by someone who wants to tell them something, carve out more than a minute – even if it means scheduling it for later – find a private spot, and before the person shares anything, let them know that if you hear anything that is potentially illegal, against organization policy, or in violation of our mission, vision, or values, you may need to investigate and potentially take action. You may hear “I don’t want you to do anything about this” or “I don’t want to get anyone in trouble,” but the HR professional can’t make a promise to learn something and then do nothing.  Odds are the individual will laugh and say, “it isn’t anything like that” and go on and communicate what they want you to know.  Even then, you may hear something in what they share that you do feel you need to investigate. You will want to let the individual know if you will be circling back to them during or after the investigation is complete and any expectations you have of them in the interim.   

Usually, the HR professional who hears a about an issue is the one to launch the investigation, but sometimes it makes sense to contract with an outside investigator. Examples might be when:

  • There is no HR person on staff
  • There is no one in HR trained on how to conduct a thorough investigation
  • Individuals involved are concerned that HR is too close to the issue
  • A fresh, outside perspective is wanted for objectivity and credibility
  • HR’s workload is heavy and the urgency to conduct an immediate investigation would jeopardize crucial work getting done

Having an outside investigator at the ready makes sense for organizations who recognize the criticality of addressing allegations quickly and competently.  Consider Purple Ink the next time you need a workplace investigation handled.

For more information, listen to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast episode on Workplace Investigations.

Susan Tinder White
Susan Tinder White
Susan White is the CEO of Susan Tinder White Consulting, a Senior Collaborator with Purple Ink, and co-host of The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast. Susan has a passion for identifying, developing, coaching, and retaining talent.

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