t. +44(0)1582 463 460
e. info@maximumperformance.co.uk
t. 01582 463463
e. info@tihtc.co.uk

7 things to avoid when conducting a workplace investigation

The things you shouldn’t do when carrying out an investigation

If your organisation is medium-sized or larger, it probably has a policy and procedure laid down for workplace investigations relating to disciplinary or misconduct matters. If, as a manager, you are involved in such an investigation the procedure is likely to be closely modelled on Acas best practice, looking something like this:

  • Decide when and how to investigate.
  • Determine the complexity of the investigation and who is the best person to carry it out (i.e. appoint an investigating manager).
  • Take immediate action to avoid the situation worsening while you investigate – this may include suspension, temporary redeployment, etc.
  • With HR support, plan the investigation.
  • Conduct interviews and take witness statements.
  • Gather other evidence, as required.
  • Evaluate the evidence.
  • Make a recommendation.
  • Document the investigation.
  • Take next steps, according to the decision(s) taken.


There’s no shortage of information on what to do (you can find the current Acas guidance here) but this blog post focuses on the other side of the coin – the things you shouldn’t do when carrying out an investigation.

7 Workplace investigation DON’TS

  • DON’T fail to investigate – This first one might sound a bit obvious but it’s surprising how often organisations are tempted to ignore a situation or complaint, or brush it under the carpet. Complaints rarely just go away and any decision not to investigate should be based on the facts and not just corporate reluctance.
  • DON’T delay – The longer you delay, the less evidence will be available, the less people will remember, and/or the less accurate the information you uncover will be.
  • DON’T be inconsistent – Treat everyone involved fairly, and consistently with any similar investigations in the past (unless ‘lessons’ were learned; in which case implement them!)
  • DON’T be subjective – We all have our own biases or prejudices; yours must not influence the investigation in any way; don’t leap to conclusions and focus on facts not opinions and hearsay.
  • DON’T assume you know what happened – As an investigator your key role is to investigate (!) and ask questions to elicit the relevant information. Whatever you think you know already, don’t bring your assumptions into the investigative process.
  • DON’T talk so much – It’s worth reiterating; your role is to uncover information, not provide it.
  • DON’T forget to document everything – All stages of the investigation must be documented, noted, recorded. Ensure that the content of notes are agreed to be an accurate representation of the information given. Aside from avoiding any misunderstandings, should the matter under investigation end up at a tribunal hearing in the future, a key factor for the tribunal panel is whether the organisation has followed its own procedures – your notes and documentation are part of proving that.


Conducting a workplace investigation is not an easy task – certainly there are plenty of potential complications and sensitivities you must work with. Avoiding the above pitfalls as you follow the investigatory process will help ensure a fair result.

But this post is all about what NOT to do; if you want to hear more about best practice workplace investigations, check out our free, taster webinar, “Taking the stress out of workplace investigations” on 12 April 2024, at 11.00am; sign up here. Or give us a call on 01582 463460; we’re here to help.


Training Areas...

Leadership & management development

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt

Management & personal effectiveness

In voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat.

Customer Service Training

Minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo.

Boardroom effectiveness

cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Maximum Coaching

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque.

Specialist Subjects

quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Ask us a question...

How can we help?

Got a question for us? We’d love to hear from you! Dial 01582 463463 or use the form below.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Don't miss our latest updates & offers

Get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered straight to your inbox when you join our mailing list…

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
How can we help?

Want to know more about our training areas?

Simply submit your question(s) below for a response within 24hrs…

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.