In our last two posts, we have been discussing how to field employee complaints and what initial factors you should implement in order to get the best information out of the grieving employee, in addition to those parties involved. Factors such as ensuring confidentiality, staying impartial, taking notes, and determining credibility are all important elements to keep in mind when conducting interviews, but what specific questions should you be asking in these investigatory conversations?

Whenever an employee approaches you with a verbal or written complaint, ask some of the relevant follow up questions to ensure you have as much information as possible to determine appropriate next steps (e.g., formal investigation):

  • Ask for specific examples of situations regarding the key words (e.g., if an employee references a grievance, ask for details of the grievance; if an employee states they feel discriminated against, ask what specifically makes them feel that way, etc.).
    • Additionally, explain that in human resources, these terms have very specific definitions and give those definitions so the employee understands the gravity and relevance of the terms they choose to use in their complaint.
  • Depending on the nature of the conversation, ask some of the applicable the following follow up questions to the individual’s complaints/statements to ensure you have all the information:
    • Who/what/when/where (who committed the alleged behavior, what specifically happened, when did it occur or is it ongoing, and where did it occur)?
    • How did you react and did you ever indicate that you were offended or somehow displeased by the act or offensive treatment?
    • Who else may have seen or heard the incident and have you discussed the incident with anyone? Is there anyone else who may have relevant information?
    • Did the person who harassed you harass anyone else? Do you know whether anyone else complained about harassment by that person?
    • How has the behavior affected you and your job?
    • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
    • Did you follow the Company’s grievance process?
    • Do you have any other relevant information?
    • What action do you want the Company to take?

After you finish conducting your interviews is that it? Are there any “best practices” you should be implementing to conclude the investigatory process? Follow along in our next post as we wrap up this topic and discuss what steps are necessary to tie up any loose ends and close out an investigation.