How to Conduct an Investigation Into Workplace Bullying

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As we grow older, we come to the realization that some things never change. In our younger years of schooling, you may have seen that one child that towered over the rest. If the worst possible situation happens, bullying may be the result of this perceived superiority. Bullying can be mitigated, but, sometimes, it never goes away.

Getting older means you will eventually find yourself in a career that you have diligently pursued. Some of your cohorts may engage in aggressive or passive instances of bullying, to your own or another’s detriment. In order for this to be found out and eliminated, investigations need to occur.

Check out this guide on how to conduct an investigation into workplace bullying:

1. Record Keeping

In order to conduct an investigation into workplace bullying, it is crucial that you document everything. Filing complaints will provide you with written documentation. Supporting documents, such as emails or personalized notes, that you keep will be just as important. You can also use corporate investigation services to collect evidence and record instances of workplace bullying.

Once you have kept solid records of the transpired events, you need to stay organized. Keep all of your records in one, convenient place. This prevents you from losing track of what could be considered evidence, in the event that you need it. Moreover, the actual investigator will require these records, since it is part of the investigation process.

2. The Allegations

If you are in a managerial position, it will usually fall on your shoulders to conduct the investigation. Unless you hire a third-party investigator, you will have to act diligently when it comes to the presented allegations. The most crucial part here is to take every allegation as seriously as you can.

No matter the magnitude, all instances of workplace bullying need to be taken seriously. Your employees trust you on more than just a professional basis. As such, if they come to you with complaints about others, they need to be treated with respect.

3. Company Policies

Generally speaking, investigating workplace bullying doesn’t mean that you will be left in the dark. To help get you acquainted with how to conduct the investigation, review your company’s policies. Usually, these policies will contain a section pertaining to specific acts of harassment.

In addition, these policies can help establish a formalized process for acting on the claims. You’ll have a starting point on who to contact, and an end point to review what transpired. Every instance of workplace bullying will be unique. That is why consulting these policies at the onset will be vital.

4. Working Quickly

The last thing you’ll want to do as the investigator is to delay the proceedings. Workplace bullying is something that must be taken seriously. Not finishing the investigation in due time may prevent certain findings from being discovered. Moreover, the person bringing forth the allegations may continue to face harassment.

One of the best ways to conduct a quick, yet thorough investigation, is to stay structured. Ask your witnesses if they have noticed anything, and collect records as you go. That way, the review process, which will take up most of the time, can be reached quicker.

5. Union Representation

If your company is unionized, you must inform the bullied individual that they can get them involved. The addition of the union to the investigation can significantly assist you in the investigation. They can conduct their own enquiry into the matter, and provide you with additional details that may have been missed.

6. Interviewing

Your employees will eventually have to be interviewed at some point. Once this happens, you have to ensure that your questions are fair, but strong. Don’t be afraid to prod your employees for details into the matter; they should be upfront with their honesty. Keep records of these interviews as well, so that they can consulted later on.

7. Fact Focusing

Although anecdotal evidence can be used to supplement your investigation, you’ll need to prioritize the facts. These will be essential, when trying to come to a conclusion on what sort of bullying has occurred.

8. Review And Act

After your investigation has been completed, you’ll have to make a decision on the matter. If your employee’s accusations have proven to be true, there should be punitive action taken. Once the final process has been conducted, ensure that your workplace takes further preventative action. Updating anti-harassment policies, for example, should be noted.

Workplace bullying can be a very common occurrence within professional environments. However, if it persists without investigation and action, your employee’s wellbeing can be put at risk. That is why it is very important to take every allegation as serious as you can from the start. Once you do, the investigation itself can be much more easier on your end to conduct!

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