Navigating the intricacies of workplace investigations is a crucial skill that can significantly impact your organisation. Getting it wrong not only consumes valuable time and resources but can also incur costs, damage relationships, and erode trust among your team. In this guide, we’ll uncover common pitfalls that HR professionals should steer clear of to ensure investigations are efficient, cost-effective, and uphold the trust within the workplace.


Define clear objectives:

One of the most common blunders in HR investigations is starting without a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved. Clearly define your objectives before diving in. Are you investigating a harassment claim, a performance issue, or a conflict between employees? Knowing your end goal will guide the entire process.

Timeliness matters:

Procrastination can be a stumbling block. Addressing issues promptly not only helps in collecting accurate information but also prevents the escalation of problems. Ensure that investigations are initiated as soon as possible after the incident is reported.


Maintaining impartiality throughout the investigation is paramount. Be aware of biases, and ensure that your team is composed of individuals who can approach the situation objectively. This will enhance the credibility of your findings. Ensure you are collecting and assessing facts not opinions.


Accurate and comprehensive documentation is the backbone of a successful investigation. Keep detailed records of interviews, evidence, and the steps taken. This not only serves as a reference but also protects the organisation in case of legal implications.

Effective interviewing:

Interviewing is a skill that can make or break an investigation. Train your team to ask open-ended questions, actively listen, and avoid leading the interviewee. Creating a comfortable environment encourages individuals to share information willingly. Avoid “Why” questions they elicit defensiveness.

Confidentiality matters:

Maintain confidentiality to build trust among employees. Clearly communicate to all parties involved that the information will be handled discreetly. This encourages open communication and ensures the integrity of the investigation.


Stay informed about employment laws and regulations. Failing to adhere to legal requirements can jeopardise the entire investigation. Consult with legal experts if needed to ensure compliance with all relevant statutes.


Transparent communication with all stakeholders involved is essential. Regular updates keep everyone informed about the progress of the investigation and foster a sense of trust in the process.

Navigating workplace investigations successfully requires a blend of skills, from effective communication to legal compliance. By avoiding common mistakes and adopting best practices, HR professionals can ensure their investigations are thorough, fair, and successful from the outset.

Remember, each investigation is unique, and flexibility in approach is key.

At Tell Jane, we can support your organisation in conducting fair and impartial workplace investigations through training in-house investigations or carrying out investigations on your behalf. Talk to us today to learn more.


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