Whew….the investigation is over and now we can all get back to work, right? Often it is not that easy. In most companies, employees are well aware of what goes on in the workplace. Even in the largest companies, employees talk about what is happening in their department or building. Pretending that an investigation never happened will cause employees to wonder. And more often than not, the imagination is worse than the truth. Addressing the situation and communicating the expectations for moving forward can help put an end to the distractions that could otherwise go on for weeks. Here are a few tips to help everyone in the company return to work post-investigation.
Within a day or two:
- Set a meeting or plan to address the situation with all staff within a few days or a week after the conclusion of the investigation.
- Confirm the fact that there was an investigation, and that appropriate steps have been taken and the matter has been resolved.
- Inform employees that although you can understand their curiosity and concern, the company will show respect for all parties involved by putting this behind them and not discussing it any further. Convey the expectation that employees will do the same and gossip, negative remarks and discussions of personal information will not be tolerated during work hours.
- Provide means by which employees can share their work related concerns by meeting with their manager or Human Resources.
- And close by reminding employees of resources that are available to them if they need to talk this through via the company Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or counseling benefits offered through their health plan or local social services.
Three to four weeks later:
- Post-investigation is the right time to review the company policy and make any revisions that are needed to promote a zero tolerance workplace and comply with the laws. Managers who were involved in the investigation should be allowed to provide insight, and the final revision should be reviewed by an attorney.
- Provide all staff training, review the laws, distribute and review the company policy, and have each employee sign an acknowledgement that they attended training and understand their rights and responsibilities. Managers should attend this meeting to show that they are united in the enforcement of the zero tolerance policy.
- At the end of the meeting, either as one group or after breaking into separate departments, allow for open discussion on how the laws and the policy apply in your workplace. Provide examples of courteous respectful behaviors, and those that are not allowed (being careful not to use examples that are too close to the recent investigation). And ask employees for suggestions on how to promote better behaviors within the workplace.
- Schedule and conduct Supervisor/Manager unlawful harassment training, even if it was conducted in the recent past, to remind the management team how important this is to the company.
Three months later:
During an investigation employees may take sides, restrict communication, and become uptight and leery of those they work with. If relationships are left to rebuild on their own, it can impact business for a period of months or more. Employers must take an active role in helping employees to rebuild trust in their co-workers and managers, so they can feel comfortable again and even enjoy their daily work. It is usually most effective to begin the rebuilding process within three to four months of an investigation, allowing for a cooling off period when raw emotions can heal.
- A good first step is to host a company lunch or barbecue. During this time, implement games or activities that promote teamwork, positive reinforcements and laughter. When employees laugh together, they let their guard down.
- Institute a spot award program to recognize teamwork, kind/respectful behaviors, and providing a helpful hand to others.
- Spend time, either one-on-one or in groups, talking about growth and learning opportunities in the company to increase engagement.
- And finally, actively manage employees by using your performance review and progressive discipline processes to recognize and build on good behaviors, and control the wrong behaviors BEFORE they get out of hand.
I hope this information is helpful to you. But remember, if you need to investigate…….GoInvestiPro.com! Simplifying the way employers conduct investigations.
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