Sometimes you just can’t or shouldn’t conduct a misconduct investigation in-house. Where there are conflicts of interest or specialist skills required, organisations may be best suited to engaging the services of a private provider to obtain the information required for the business to make the right decisions.
But how do you know if the service you contract will be provided? Investigations are notorious for over-running on budget, exploding the terms of reference and, if not handled correctly, can cause more problems than they solve.
So how do you make sure the investigation company you use can deliver what it promises?
The most important thing is TRUST. You have to trust someone else with one of the most delicate and important aspects of your business. If they get it wrong it could lead you down an expensive path of litigation and court hearings.
How do you find them?
Personal referral – a tried and tested method, but limits your pool to your personal contacts. Linkedin has extended this pool but wherever you get a personal referral make sure it is from personal experience and not just a friendship.
Google is good – Check out a company’s online presence. A company can provide the reliability and consistency that sole practitioners may lack. Companies also have resources to maintain skill levels and ensure business continuity in case of misadventure. Search terms such as ‘workplace investigator’, ‘bullying investigations’, ‘HR investigator’ or ‘investigations’ should all turn up results. Don’t forget to add your location, country or state for local service providers.
Conduct an interview – once you have narrowed down the field for 2 or 3, give them a ring. Interview the firm or the individual. Find out how they manage investigations and sound out their expertise. Ask for estimates and quotes, investigation plans and other information. Professionalism shown here is a good indication that the company will provide you with excellent customer service.
Are they qualified?
Make sure the company and the investigator you use has a current private inquiry licence. It is little known and little adhered to, but across Australia individuals conducting workplace investigations must either be practising solicitors or licenced investigators. Ensuring minimum levels of training and a code of conduct, licensing demonstrates the commitment of the individual and company to provide quality investigation services.
Trust doesn’t stop with a licence however, you also need a business that can demonstrate:
What sets one company above another?
This will depend on the case you have and your company priorities. Some of the typical issues are speed, cost and sensitivity. You will need to identify which service provider will meet your priorities and provide an investigator with the best matched set of skills and expertise for your case.
So – In short, here are my Top 5 tips!
- Don’t just rely on personal referral
- Check relevant experience
- Make sure the business is licenced and individuals qualified
- Ensure they can meet your priorities
- Place focus on excellent customer service
Harriet Stacey has been managing workplace investigations for 15 years. She has developed a reputation for high ethical standards and quality investigations. Best practice protocols can be invaluable resources to business. So we have developed a Workplace Investigations Toolkit to help support in house management of investigations. See our free investigations flow chart and many more useful resources on our website Wise Workplace.