Top 5 Signs of a Successful Investigation

Investigations are heavily scrutinized. One misstep and the entire investigation can be seen as a flop.

Posted by Joe Gerard in on March 10th, 2011

There’s a lot riding on a workplace investigation. In an increasingly litigious work environment, employers face an expanding list of responsibilities when it comes to investigations. One misstep and the entire investigation can be compromised. Successful investigations require commitment from a lot of people within an organization – not just the investigator.

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A successful investigation has these five characteristics:

1. Commitment from Management

In order for an investigation to achieve goals and be successful, management needs to support HR, ethics, compliance - whichever area handles investigations.
Without commitment from those at the top of the organization, it’s hard to justify why an investigation is necessary. It’s difficult to get the required resources and funding to properly execute an investigation. In order for an investigation to achieve goals and be successful, management needs to support HR, ethics, compliance – whichever area handles investigations.

2. Allocation of Resources

Cheaper isn’t always better. A successful investigation begins with the right people, significant support from management, the right supplies, sufficient funding and other identified resources. Investigators need effective tools to complete investigations and this isn’t an area where companies can cut corners. This could include bringing in outside investigators or forensics specialists if skills aren’t available internally, as well as providing investigators with tools like case management software, to simplify workflow and report writing.

3. Compliance with the Law

Anything can happen once a complaint has been made. What may seem like a simple investigation could turn into a complex issue with legal implications. Therefore, every investigation needs to be conducted with the law in mind. There are laws that govern the timeliness of an investigation, the responsibilities of an employer and the conduct of the investigator throughout a workplace investigation. Although it’s unlikely that every investigation will lead to a court case, it’s a good idea to treat each investigation as if it will.

4. Extensive Documentation

Documenting each element of the investigation allows investigators and management to make information-based decisions, without having to rely on memory, which may fade over time.
Document every step and keep it after the investigation has concluded. Long after you’ve completed your internal investigation the matter could in up in litigation so be sure to write a comprehensive investigation report that will hold up in court. If your company uses case management software, case notes, the investigation report and all other investigation-related information will be saved in a single location for future reference. Documenting each element of the investigation allows investigators and management to make information-based decisions, without having to rely on memory, which may fade over time.

5. Post-investigation Follow Up

Just because an investigation is over doesn’t necessarily mean that the issue is resolved. You need to follow up with the complainant and the subject of the investigation to ensure that the problem has been rectified. If the investigation concludes that the subject violated company policy, follow up to make sure the person has been reprimanded for their actions. Use the information you gain from investigations to amend policies and improve employee training. Case management software provides reporting that can identify which types of incidents are happening and where so that policies and training improvements can be targeted to areas where they are needed.


Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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