This is Part 4 of a 4-part posting on recommendations to consider before, during, and after a workplace investigation.
Most of the suggestions in this 4-part posting go beyond the bounds of what a workplace investigator is retained to do. Sometimes the employer does not want written recommendations; however, the workplace investigator can offer many of the above recommendations verbally at the post-investigation stage as a means to help heal the environment. The workplace investigator may also want to suggest some of the following remedial measures to help the employees set aside their differences:
- The employer should designate someone, preferably a Human Resources professional or someone in a managerial capacity with whom the complainant is comfortable, to check back every week or so to see how the complainant is doing and to ask if any new or related problems have arisen. If no problems have shown up after a couple of visits, drop back in once a month to see how things are going. It is better to be pro-active than to let a new situation mutate out of the original complaint.
- Check back with the accused employee weekly or monthly to see if any coaching or further on-the-spot training is needed. The accused employee may still have pent up anger and may need to vent to someone who is privy to the situation and can lend a listening ear and offer sound, yet understanding, counseling.
- Consider offering more frequent (or revised) harassment prevention training to employees and supervisors, and be sure that the training offered includes all forms (i.e., all protected classes) of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
- Consider offering the accused employee and the complainant Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, individualized coaching, or mentoring to help deal with any lingering emotions.
- Determine whether company policies need to be revised to address particular issues that arose during this investigation if they are not adequately addressed within existing policies. Announce the changes to all employees.
To meet the important goal of healing any lingering tensions or wounds caused by a workplace investigation, an employer should, at the very least, communicate the results to the complaining employee and the accused employee without violating confidentiality. The employer should evaluate what the investigation has revealed about employee relations in general. The outcome may lead to revised company policies, new training, or re-evaluation of the complaint process, which every employer should welcome and embrace.