Navigating Post-Investigation Repercussions in the Workplace: Reinstating a Culture of Trust and Integrity

In today’s rapidly evolving business world, conducting workplace investigations has become increasingly important. In a 2022 survey by the Canadian Human Rights Commission63% of registered complaints relate to employment issues. Your organization may have recently experienced an incident that caused unprecedented turmoil in the workplace. It could have been a conflict that escalated, making it difficult to make crucial decisions; employee engagement that has plummeted; or perhaps someone has experienced preventable accidents at work. In any of these scenarios, a workplace investigation may have been conducted to determine the facts and address underlying issues. To effectively handle HR investigations, it is crucial to have a clear plan in place. At times, these investigations are inevitable, so it is important to be prepared for when they occur. However, what happens after the investigation is complete?

Knowing where to start after a workplace investigation ends is something that’s equally important for management and leaders to consider. The disruption and emotions that often remain after an investigation concludes can leave a lasting impact on your organization’s culture, employee morale, and overall productivity.

Let’s delve into the significance of mitigating the after-effects and explore some of the steps that can be taken towards workplace restoration to rebuild trust and foster a positive work environment.

Understanding the Importance of Addressing After-Effects:

Workplace investigations are a necessary step towards resolving issues, but they often have far-reaching consequences. Ignoring the aftermath of an investigation can lead to lingering problems, such as:

Distrust and Low Morale: Following an investigation, employers must confront various issues to ensure a safe workplace. This includes addressing potential escalation issues between the complainant and respondent and rebuilding trust between them, if they continue to work together. Additionally, addressing general workplace frustration regarding how the employer handled the situation is crucial. Failure to do so can lead to distrust in leadership and colleagues, resulting in low morale, decreased job satisfaction, and a toxic work environment.

Reduced Productivity: In the aftermath of workplace investigations, it’s essential to consider the potential impact on productivity. Workplace disturbances resulting from unresolved issues can cause disruptions that affect employee focus and overall productivity. The longer these problems persist without effective resolution, the greater the negative impact on the organization’s bottom line.

Mental Health Impact: The investigation may have taken a toll on the mental health of those involved and others in the workplace. The employer should consider providing support for individuals dealing with mental health issues like stress and anxiety resulting from an investigation.

Gossip and Reprisals: Employers need to be vigilant about gossip and potential reprisals or negative actions by employees, which could lead to further complaints or issues.

High Turnover:  By not addressing post-investigation issues well, this can create a negative work environment, which may prompt talented employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. This negativity can have a significant impact on employee turnover, which can be both costly and detrimental to the organization’s overall stability and expertise.

Legal Consequences: Employers must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing post-investigation issues to avoid legal risks. Unresolved issues may expose the organization to potential lawsuits (i.e. constructive dismissal) or regulatory penalties (i.e. OHS), making it imperative to tackle these problems promptly and effectively.

In addition to conducting workplace investigations, Salopek offers a comprehensive suite of workplace restoration services with the purpose of improving workplace culture and the employee experience. These services include: 

Policies & Procedures Review: Salopek can provide a thorough review and potential revision of workplace policies and procedures to establish clear transparency, legislative compliance, and reporting procedures to ensure concerns can be brought forward and addressed quickly. 

Performance Management & Corrective Action: Continuous employee development is a cornerstone of addressing the aftermath of investigations. It fosters adaptability to new challenges, enhances responses, and elevates performance to achieve personal, team, and organizational success. Furthermore, the establishment of a proactive Progressive Discipline Process empowers managers to transform performance issues into development opportunities and mitigate risk.

Leveraging Learning and Development TrainingCover essential skills for leaders, including aspects of the employee experience such as recruitment, onboarding, performance management, communication and feedback, conflict resolution and offboarding processes and skills. Training also supports employee communication in handling conflicts, workplace respect, and employee well-being. This training addresses awareness, compliance, risk mitigation, inclusivity, and conflict resolution skills, fostering a healthier workplace culture.

Conflict Mediation Coaching: When two people or an organization try to resolve a dispute by determining who is right, they often get stuck. That’s why so often disputes escalate and result in people leaving an organization. There are better ways to resolve a dispute. This includes mediation, by hiring an expert mediator. Salopek has Specialists trained in Conflict Mediation to assist with complex and challenging employee relations matters.

Workforce Planning and Reporting Process Evaluation: It is crucial to evaluate workforce planning and process effectiveness to ensure that individuals are not deterred from reporting complaints. This involves conducting a thorough analysis to identify any gaps or areas of concern, proposing comprehensive solutions for improvement and how to foster an environment that encourages support and open discussion.

Facilitating Team Building: Creating and coordinating activities that encourage teamwork, build trust, and enhance communication among team members is essential for effectively communicating changes and updates. This can involve team-building exercises, workshops, or group discussions with the goal of improving team cohesion. By providing opportunities for team members to engage and form connections, we can foster a nurturing work atmosphere for the long term.

HR-On Call: Salopek offers ad-hoc expert guidance to address urgent and challenging personnel issues, providing invaluable support to businesses and employers. HR On-Call offers organizations with limited human resources support a timely and cost-effective option for receiving expert advice on challenging people issues. Within 24 hours, you can be connected to the Specialist/Senior Consultant best qualified to assist you. 

Confidential Employee Hotline: Salopek offers a Confidential Employee Hotline Program for clients to opt-in to as part of an organization’s Safe and Respectful Workplace Strategy. This hotline allows employees to confidentially report unsafe or inappropriate workplace behavior. A dedicated Salopek Consultant will respond within 24 hours, ensuring a confidential and impartial outlet for employee concerns.

Workplace restoration after an investigation is an important step in rebuilding trust and morale, laying the groundwork for organizational renewal. This process demands care and empathy, and it should not be relegated to the sidelines after initial actions are taken. Continuous monitoring of the work environment and solicitation of feedback from employees are essential to ensure the efficacy and sustainability of implemented changes. A thriving workplace is forged through trust, communication, and a commitment to positive transformation.

If you are interested in learning more about Workplace Restoration, contact Salopek & Associates today!

Canadian Human Rights Commission (2022)

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