HR professionals know that workplace investigations are one of the most time-consuming and stressful parts of the job. If you are facing a workplace complaint, your first instinct may be to keep it internal…or turn toward a law firm or private investigator. Julia Paris, Employers Council Managing Attorney, Workplace Investigations, explained the reasons why you should seek out Employers Council’s all-attorney team of specially trained workplace investigators instead.
Employers Council’s external investigators are unbiased.
A report that is either biased or gives the appearance of bias is one of the common mistakes employers make when conducting workplace investigations. A report that doesn’t read as objective won’t stand up in court.
“Our whole goal is to ask difficult questions of people who may not like us, not care that they don’t like us (or if they’re offended by our questions), and then come up with a logical, clear, objective and neutral answer for the member,” said Julia.
Conducting an investigation internally adds an extra layer of interpersonal stress onto the inside investigator. In addition to sometimes leading to compromised reports, existing workplace relationships can also affect how far internal investigators are willing to go when questioning witnesses.
“It’s not [just] because of built-in conflicts that you can see on an org chart,” Julia explained. “ It’s the conflict of, ‘Oh, no, I went to that guy’s birthday party in the break room last week.’”
Employers Council’s team of external investigators can operate independently without fear of upsetting coworkers or damaging working relationships.
“When you’re conducting an investigation, you’re going to take flak,” said Julia. “It’s much easier to ask those difficult questions when you know you won’t have to be attending a work function with a witness next week.”
In the course of putting together an accurate report for an organization, witnesses’ feathers can get ruffled, and some employees may not like the facts that come to light. Free of internal, interpersonal concerns, Employers Council investigators can remain impartial, ask the tough questions, and conduct a thorough investigation.
Employers Council investigators have consistent training and processes.
“Training is crucial because best practices do change,” said Julia, adding that Employers Council follows the latest investigation publications, seminars, conferences, and updates closely. Most often HR professionals conducting investigations internally are doing so alongside a myriad of other duties. They don’t have as much time for ongoing research, learning and training.
Investigators at Employers Council receive ongoing training in:
Employers Council investigators use a standardized report template that has been developed over years to maximize thoroughness, neutrality and clarity. All Employers Council investigation reports go through multiple reviews to ensure their findings are detailed, fair and accurate.
Employers Council investigators have specialized knowledge.
The Employers Council team includes bilingual investigators, which can save an organization the cost of hiring a separate interpreter. Employers Council has investigators with years of experience conducting investigations in specific industries, including banking, education and health care.
“They’re very used to talking to the employees in these different areas,” Julia said. “They speak the lingo; they’re good at making people comfortable.”
Employers Council can conduct investigations in California.
If your organization has faced a complaint in California, you know that the state has stringent rules about who is allowed to conduct workplace investigations. Employers Council has licensed investigators ready to work in California — at rates far under what you’ll normally pay in the state.
Employers Council membership pricing helps cut down on investigation costs.
Employer Council members receive special member pricing on pay-as-you-go HR and legal services, including workplace investigations.
“We all know investigations can get very expensive very quickly because there are twists and turns in the road,” Julia said. “You have additional witnesses, lots of evidence to report and analyze, and reports that have to be drafted and revised and edited. Having that membership pricing makes it much less financially disruptive.”
Employers Council can offer separate legal services.
The workplace investigation team does not give legal advice or act as legal advocates for members. Doing so would compromise investigators’ neutrality and investigation integrity.
But during and after investigations, organizations often need legal guidance as they manage workplace environments and work through the implications of findings. Employers Council’s Legal Services has a separate team of attorneys who are available to counsel organizations going through investigations. The two legal teams are kept siloed to protect investigational independence.
“Our members have access to our staff attorneys who can help them without being involved in the investigation,” Julia said. “Having that parallel service running alongside is a huge added benefit.”
Are you considering outsourcing your next workplace investigation? Contact our Legal Services team to learn more about hiring one of Employers Council’s experienced, unbiased investigators.