Compliance & Legal

Laying the Groundwork for HR Investigations

To avoid HR investigations becoming an operations bottleneck or worse, a costly settlement, HR managers should consider these pre-investigation steps.

group of people conducting an HR investigation

For professionals in the Employee and Labor Relations field, HR investigations are a common occurrence. There's been a greater focus on human-centric work models in recent years, but this doesn't mean all employees will be engaged and satisfied all the time. Whether you are within a Human Resources department at the hub of a multi-faceted company, or an individual leading of a small team of professionals in your own business venture, dealing with workplace issues and/or grievances is inevitable.

To avoid HR investigations becoming a bottleneck in operations, or resulting settlements costing thousands of dollars, initial steps should be taken.  Advance preparation can streamline the process and resolve situations swiftly - with minimal disruption to the business.

Pre-Investigation & Interview Steps for HR Managers

1. Determine who will conduct the investigation.

Will this issue be handled solely in-house by HR and Employee Relations managers, or will legal assistance and investigative services be necessary? Will Union Representatives need to be present, or will parties be interviewed without external councils? Addressing these questions prior to scheduling any of the meetings or questioning those involved will ensure a smoother process.

2. Collect, store, and easily access materials and evidence.

When building a case or defending a grievance, it’s not uncommon to site corporate policies, include photos or video footage, and record testimony to be referred to later in the process. Assembling as much information before the initial interview-phase will expedite the case. Using a central repository that is organized and easily searchable for all case-related information sets a collaborative standard of practice needed throughout the HR investigation.

3. Review company policies & procedures.

Even tenured Human Resources professionals should take the time to review employee handbooks, company policies, and state and federal regulations to note excerpts pertaining to the employee incidents in question. Thes can range from harassment and DEI policies to how the workplace handles mandatory labor law compliance notices. Review of employee and personnel profiles including disciplinary actions and recorded penalizations can help Human Resources investigators become acquainted with information relative to the case.

4. Review union policies & procedures (if relevant).

Your internal handbooks and policies may not be the only place you'll need to look to prepare for the case. Companies in states that are not Right-to-Work states are more likely to be involved with unions. If your HR investigation involves an incident affecting unionized employees, there is a risk of a union grievance being filed and the union getting involved.

When HR must work to resolve a labor relations grievance, it's likely that your collective bargaining agreement will lay out the process for resolving the grievance, timeline for each steps, and what events will lead to arbitration (unless you have an arbitration agreement in place). Review the CBA carefully and take steps to prepare for what you'll expect the union to do at each stage of the investigation. The more information you can bring to the table, the better positioned you'll be to achieve a swift resolution and avoid arbitration.

5. Prepare questions to use in the HR investigation.

Employee relations investigations must be thorough to ensure you haven't missed anything and can make an informed decision. A prepared list of questions for interviews can help you to get the most possible information relevant to the case. Here are 20 potential questions to include on your list. 

Avoid Common Missteps in Handling HR Investigations

Before the HR investigation process even begins, your team should be considering the outcome – a definitive resolution. Taking these initial steps will delineate a thorough and well documented process that carries through to arbitration, and the closing of cases. 

Common reasons companies are unprepared to successfully handle grievances is lack of documentation or inaccuracies throughout the process. Unfortunately, many businesses rely on spreadsheets and antiquated procedures to manage HR issues. However, as the complexities of labor regulations continue to evolve, it’s becoming impossibly difficult to avoid human error from these manual processes – leaving companies at risk of legal complications.

LaborSoft is the leading partner for HR Case Management technology. Our innovative system provides the capabilities, intelligence, and flexibility companies need to oversee today’s employee and labor relations issues. Our engaging, user-friendly interface with point-and-click features, makes it easy to store, search, and archive case-related information. LaborSoft’s documentation, tracking, and reporting ensures HR grievances are facilitated quickly and accurately to save your company time and money managing HR investigations.

Contact us today and discover why more companies are partnering with LaborSoft and integrating HR case management technology into their HCM solution.

New call-to-action

This post was originally published on 8/9/2017 and was updated on 1/20/2024.

Similar posts

Stay informed, never miss a post!

Stay up to date with the latest industry news, posts, and resources from LaborSoft.