Conducting an investigation in the workplace is a very serious task, one of the most stressful an HR employee could ever do. Conducting an investigation requires knowledge of the laws (which are constantly changing), an understanding of human nature and psychology, and a great deal of sensitivity. A lot depends not only on the outcome of the various inquiries but also on the way these were conducted.

It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but luckily there are many experts who have years of experience and who are willing to share their invaluable advice. Do you need to perform one of the hardest tasks an HR officer has to face? Here are the essential factors to remember when handling a workplace investigation.

Make a plan

First of all, gather as much information as you can without involving other people. This may be very limited, but it’s a good start. Next, list down the questions you need answered, and how those questions could possibly be answered. You need to formulate a plan in order to work as efficiently as possible.

Gather evidence

List down what kind of evidence you need – and how you can obtain such evidence. Often you’ll find that the evidence is easy to obtain, although you should never count on that. Go to the most obvious sources first in order to save time and energy.

Questioning

Questioning is a stressful task. List down before the interview what kind of information you hope to gain, and stick to your script. It’s always better to ask open-ended questions and give the employee time to talk and explain him- or herself. Always remain calm and professional, and avoid confrontation or aggressive tactics. Make sure the whole interview is recorded, and have the recording transcribed by professional UK transcription services. There are many transcription specialists around, but it’s best to have your recordings transcribed by a UK transcription company.

Calmly and politely

It’s often difficult to remain calm and refrain from confrontational approaches, especially when it’s a “he said, she said” case. However, it’s always wise to ask yourself the following: “By asking this particular question, what is my potential risk and what is my potential reward?” Be professional and keep the goal in mind.

Be efficient

It’s important to be thorough, but it’s equally important you be quick and not waste anyone’s time or make people unnecessarily uncomfortable. Be efficient.

It’s very important that throughout the whole process of investigating, the HR officer maintains confidentiality; it’s crucial that the people in question are protected as much as possible, and that the rest of the staff doesn’t lose trust and allow their morale to slip. When the reputation, livelihoods, and possibly the future of people are at stake, the issues must be handled with sensitivity and professionalism.