So, we know the importance of establishing the nature of the grievance and ensuring all of the issues are addressed. One way in which we can be confident we have responded to a grievance thoroughly and ensure the employee is satisfied it has been addressed, is by conducting a thorough grievance investigation. So, what does that involve?
Set up a formal meeting with the complainant
In this meeting, set out to them exactly what the issues are that you have identified and what you are going to do to address those issues.
Go through the terms of reference you put together in that first all-important stage. You are working with the complainant to consider the points they have raised so it is an opportunity for them to clarify anything you may have misunderstood or omitted. This should give the complainant confidence that from the off, you are doing this properly.
The Grievance Investigation Interview
Grievances come in all different shapes and sizes, and again, just because something may appear to be time consuming, doesn’t mean we avoid it. If, based on the facts, we need to interview 4, 5, 6 plus people, then let’s get interviewing. Take time to establish that each witness is truly relevant and necessary to the issues. This way they will bring valuable evidence to the investigation that will assist with the outcome.
Investigating Senior Employees
Regardless of status within the business, if the individual is key to the investigation, the importance of the process must be flagged to them and they must be spoken to as part of the investigation. The key to a thorough investigation is evidence gathering which will allow us to compile objective, evidence-based outcomes. Try these questioning techniques when conducting the interviews. At this stage it may also be beneficial to instruct an external investigator.
As well as interviews, we should consider what other information may be relevant to help us obtain the evidence we need to back up our findings. Remembering always that the outcome should not be based on our opinion but on evidence we have obtained during the investigation.
There is often a fine line to be drawn between the need to carry out a grievance investigation thoroughly and the rights of the employee being investigated. Regard should therefore always be had to the implied duty of trust and confidence owed to the employee. But of course, this must be balanced with the duty owed to the employee who has raised a grievance, to reassure them that their grievance is being dealt with properly.
Next up, the grievance outcome letter.