Grievances and disciplinary investigations are unfortunately a part of office life –an unpleasant part, but they are sometimes necessary. They are uncomfortable and stressful for all parties concerned and need to be handled in a proper way for them to have as positive and productive a result as possible. To prevent escalation or irregularities, it’s best to think the process through.
Luckily there are many experts in the field with years of experience and a vast amount of knowledge you can rely on. Do you have a difficult task ahead? Here’s how to properly deal with grievance or disciplinary investigation as an HR officer.
Preparation is crucial. Make sure you write down your goals and clearly define issues which need to be investigated. Not all investigations are the same, so consider the scope, the people you have to deal with, and what the possible repercussions will be for the team, management, and everyone involved. Also note down a schedule or deadline by which you hope to accomplish your report.
An employee who can provide information (or is the subject of the investigation) should be notified, and provided the reasons for the investigation. If necessary, provide advice on how they can seek their own council – it’s important to respect everybody’s rights in this procedure.
Always be respectful and thank the employee for taking part. Make sure the employee understands the reason for the interview. If you are going to record it, make sure the employee is aware, and if necessary (according to law), ask permission first. Always check if there are any questions, and be as clear as possible. Afterwards, have the recording transcribed by accurate transcription services. UK transcription specialists such as Alphabet Secretarial have made a name for themselves in this field.
It’s always a good tactic to ask open-ended questions and give the subject time to respond to the question in their own way. Follow up with questions. Repeat the answer to the subject (rephrase) to make sure you are clear on the answer. Never be aggressive, and remain calm and polite.
Recording – either with audio or on paper – is an important part of the investigation, as this will be included in the report. The record and report should be signed by the employee at the end of the interview.
Once you have all the information you need, summarise it as best as possible in an organised manner. Make sure that all important data is included and that all evidence and records are integrated as well.
It’s always important to remain calm and focused during the whole process; to a large extent, people’s reputation, livelihood, and even lives may be influenced by the actions you take. It’s an important duty, and should be done properly.