Workplace investigations are often, by their very nature, disruptive to business as usual. An employee has likely lodged some kind of serious complaint. Depending on the nature of the allegations and the person(s) against whom they are levied, an external investigator (such as myself) might have been retained. This kind of scenario almost always sets off some kind of workplace grapevine.
How do you keep employees focused on the tasks at hand? Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Be very clear about what you can, and cannot, share with employees. If they ask, you can tell them there is an ongoing investigation pursuant to company policy and that it is important to respect the process and the people involved. Accordingly, they should simply focus on their jobs.
2. Model the behavior you want to see. Want employees to be their normal busy bees? Do the same. Don’t act as if the sky is falling or show stress or feelings of uncertainty that may result from the investigation.
3. Be respectful of all employees – the complainant, the alleged wrongdoer, the witnesses, and the simply curious. That is really the best way to keep the train on the tracks.