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Consistency and Fairness: Are you training your investigators?

Invest and make a difference


Patricia, a seasoned HR Director at a thriving multinational corporation, has noticed a troubling trend. There are inconsistencies in how workplace investigations are handled across the business. As a firm believer in fairness and transparency, she couldn’t ignore this. 


She tried to pinpoint what the issues were:

 

  • Multiple teams were involved in conducting investigations, as they tried to assign them to subject matter experts.

  • Triage didn’t always work well, arguments on remit caused delays and crucial risks were not always identified.

  • A mix of experience and methods was undertaken as some were intent on cross-examining and wanting to catch people out, while others were like a rabbit in the headlights, frightened to make any decisions.

  • Outcomes sometimes made no sense. Patricia couldn’t hand on heart say she didn’t feel bias impacted this.

How could Patricia fix this issue and standardise the approach across the business?
A hand holding a pencil with a signpost at the top, one way pointing to wrong and one way pointing to right

Consider Corporate Investigations Training



Depending on the size and sector of an organisation, there are many teams involved in conducting investigations. HR, Security, Audit, Compliance, Legal and People managers are some of the departments or individuals tasked with identifying, conducting and managing investigations. No wonder it isn’t easy to have a consistent approach.

 

Having an organisational approach to investigations is helpful in ensuring fair processes across the investigations being dealt with. Training investigators on this approach is crucial.

 

Now, you might be thinking, “I run a business, not a policing academy”, which is, of course, true. Still, all businesses, no matter the size or sector, have a high chance of requiring an investigation at some stage, be it a grievance, a disciplinary, a whistleblowing, or a crime. 

 

Being prepared for this puts your people in a better position to effectively manage it.

 

It also reduces the chance of there being comparator issues across different investigations.


It’s all about minimising legal and financial risks; reputational damage; protecting employees and improving productivity


Two females in discussion

No matter how wonderful an organisation is, at some stage, that organisation will experience conflict. Indeed, not all conflict is destructive. It is sometimes healthy to have debate and to encourage creativity and expression. However, when that conflict isn’t healthy, it is essential that they are resolved efficiently, communication flows seamlessly, and employees feel supported. I am also a big believer in a conciliation approach. Kate, Mast’s founder and CEO, has some great contacts who offer mediation services, and she also believes this approach is key. However, there is sometimes no avoiding an investigation. Having your investigators trained so that they understand the law, the guidelines and the expectations means they are better equipped to navigate these workplace challenges.



So, what are the key benefits?



  1. Consistency & Fairness By providing standardised training across departments involved in investigations, such as HR, Security, Audit, Compliance, Legal, and Management, businesses can ensure that everyone adheres to the same principles and practices. This consistency helps mitigate the risk of biased outcomes, as well as reducing the potential for legal and regulatory challenges.

  2. Enhanced Skills & Expertise Effective investigation training equips employees with the necessary skills and expertise to handle investigations competently. This includes understanding legal requirements, interview techniques, evidence collection, report writing and conflict resolution. Investing in such training ensures that investigators are well-prepared to navigate complex situations and make informed decisions based on objective analysis rather than subjective interpretation.

  3. Reduced Organisational Risks Training investigators helps minimise legal and financial risks for the organisation. Well-trained investigators are less likely to overlook critical details, mishandle evidence, or make procedural errors that could expose the company to liabilities. This risk mitigation is crucial for maintaining a positive reputation and fostering a productive work environment free from unnecessary disruptions.

  4. Improved Employee Relations When investigations are done well, you foster confidence amongst employees. This means conducting investigations professionally and transparently and ensuring employees feel supported and respected, even when facing challenging situations. This contributes to a healthier culture where conflicts are addressed promptly and equitably, leading to improved morale and productivity.

  5. Compliance with Regulations Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is essential for every business. Investigation training ensures that investigators are up-to-date with relevant laws, policies, and procedures. This not only safeguards the organisation from legal pitfalls but also demonstrates a commitment to ethical conduct and good governance.

  6. Cost-Effective Approach Investment in investigation training is a proactive measure that ultimately saves costs associated with prolonged or mishandled investigations. By empowering internal resources to handle investigations efficiently, organisations can reduce reliance on external consultants (like Mast!) and legal services, thereby optimising resource allocation.

  

Senior leaders like Patricia, who are seeking to uphold integrity, mitigate risks, and promote a culture of fairness and accountability, already understand the importance of investing in investigation training. By standardising practices and equipping investigators with the right skills, businesses can navigate workplace challenges effectively while fostering a supportive and compliant environment for their employees.


 

Further Resources


There are of course other activities an investigator can do, aside from training, to keep up to date on best practice. You may be aware that Kate, our founder, is on the Advisory Board of the Association of Corporate Investigators, who provide networking, support and educational opportunities for investigators - find out more about what they do here: https://my-aci.com/


And of course....


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Mast People Support can help you ensure your investigators have the right training to do their role well. We tailor our courses to ensure our clients specific needs are met. Please get in contact to see how we can help you.



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