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Employee Complaints and Conducting Workplace investigations

Happy 2023!

Let’s start the new year off right for your business!

Today let’s talk about “Employee Complaints and Conducting Workplace investigations”.

There are times when an employee makes a complaint whether it is about workplace conditions, a co-worker or management. As HR or a business owner, your first thought is what do I do?

Here are the steps that need to be taken when you receive a workplace complaint.

1. Take the Complainant Seriously. Too many times HR or an employer will either not take the complaint seriously or look at the person making the complaint and not the complaint itself. If an employee files a complaint, take it seriously as your best employee is making a complaint.

2. Assess the Complaint. If it is a reported as harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, separate the parties. Your obligation is to protect the person making the complaint from any further harm, intimidation, and or retaliation.

3. Conduct Immediate and Thorough Investigations. Make sure that you interview all parties that may be a direct witness, have direct information or knowledge of the situation. Make sure that the investigation takes place as soon as possible. Do not drag it out for weeks or months. The longer the investigation takes, the less credibility the process has.

4. Provide Parties with the Outcome of the Investigation. I have heard far too many times to count that employees did not know the outcome of the investigation nor that any actions were taken after the complaint was filed. Ensure that the employee that filed the complaint and the person named in the complaint are informed of the outcome of the investigation.

5. If the Allegations are Valid, Take Immediate and Appropriate Action. The person that is the “Bad Actor” needs to be reprimanded. The disciplinary action can be a verbal conversation, written disciplinary action and or termination. Always refer to your employee handbook to make sure that your actions are in line with established policies and procedures.

6. Reeducate Employees on the Policies and Procedures. Do not disclose what prompted the investigations but reiterate what the policies are and what the consequences are for violating them.

These are some of the major steps that any HR or employer can take. This will help create a more inclusive and valued workplace and hopefully cut down on fostering a toxic work environment.

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