Internal investigations are an important part of dealing with certain problems that cannot be resolved informally within the company. Incomplete or flawed investigations can expose certain employees or parties to unfair claims or result in financial and reputational damage to the company.
As experienced by IBM in 2015, the case of a lawsuit from its former Vice President who felt that he was stopped from work for no basic reason – too old. According to the jury, the results of the company’s HR investigation tended to be one-sided and was unable to provide evidence to refute the charges. IBM finally had to make peace by paying a fine of $ 4.1 million to Castellucio.
Then how to do the proper internal investigation?
Investigators can be HR professionals or parties outside the company. What is clear is that the person chosen to carry out the investigation must be independent and objective and must not be in a position of direct authority over any of the people involved in the complaint.
Starting from the code of conduct
It is of the utmost importance that companies have a clear code of conduct in writing. The code of conduct contains company policies, including in dealing with complaints. Different types of complaints, different handling procedures. Based on the code of conduct, investigators can gather information related to behavior and determine whether the activity they complain about violates company policy.
Create an investigative plan
Who will be interviewed? What questions will be asked? Ensure that investigators get information from many parties involved, are impartial and unbiased.
Collect and record any supporting evidence available for investigation. Evidence can be in the form of e-mails, video recordings, reports, eye witness interviews and the like.
Generate an investigative report summarizing the evidence and recommended results. Include supporting evidence, applicable laws, regulations or company policies regarding the case and outline the actions that need to be taken.