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Closing out an Internal Investigation: 5 Key Steps

Wrapping up the investigation properly protects your employees and your company.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on December 17th, 2019

You’ve completed your investigation. You’ve interviewed everyone involved in the incident. You’ve double checked all the evidence. You’ve reached your conclusions. Now it’s time to close out the investigation.

Workplace investigations are stressful and are often disruptive to the workplace. It’s important to close out the investigation properly and make sure all documentation is in order. There are specific steps that you should take in order to protect your company from legal repercussions, as well as to try to mitigate any hurt feelings or tensions that might exist.

Meet with the Subject and Complainant

The first step in properly closing out an investigation is to conduct meetings with the accused as well as with the complainant. It may be a good idea to also include management in these closing out meetings. The purpose of these last meetings is to inform everyone of the closure of the investigation, as well as to let them know of any additional actions that may be occurring.

Need help with this step? Download the cheat sheet: 8 Basic Questions to Ask in Every Investigation.

Answer any questions they may have truthfully and thank them for their participation. Remind the accused that while it was the right of the complainant to file a complaint, it was also their right as the accused to have a fair and impartial investigation. It is also a good idea to remind everyone that the investigation, as well as any follow up, is confidential.

Document Everything

Once you have verbally met with the accused and the complainant, it is time to document everything. Make sure you document everything and store all materials, videos, audio recordings, files, etc. in a secure place.

Thorough documentation protects the investigator, the company and everyone involved in the investigation.

Watch our free webinar on how to write investigation reports that stand up to scrutiny.

Review Communication

Closing out an investigation is also the time to review everything and to make sure that all aspects of the investigation were clear and well-communicated.

Often when an investigation ends with no visible result, such as a firing or transfer, the rumour mill begins. You want to ensure that the rumour mill is silenced as much as possible. This can go a long way towards preventing bitterness, anger, false information, etc.

Related: How to Conduct a Workplace Investigation Step-by-Step.

Review Policies

The next step in the process is to review current policies and examine if they contributed in any way to the complaint. Check your harassment and diversity policies. Discuss your findings with management.

If possible, management may want to consider holding a meeting that offers general information on the investigation, or if the reason or the results of the investigation may affect company policies.  It is very important that this be done without violating the confidentiality of the investigation or the parties that were involved.

Make Changes to Prevent Future Incidents

This might be a good time to institute changes. It is also a good time to review your company’s training programs. Perhaps additional training in areas like harassment or diversity might be in order. Investigations take time and money, so any actions that might prevent future incidents should be considered.

Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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