Do You Need A Workplace Mediation Or An Investigation?

Continuing our series of short videos on the subject of workplace investigations. It’s a subject that’s often misunderstood and even mishandled by leaders, managers and HR personnel. Today’s question...

The warning signs to know whether to conduct a mediation or a formal investigation would be the number of allegations that have been included in the complaint letter and the nature of the allegations.

Sometimes when the word bullying is used people think automatically that it has to be a formal investigation because bullying is a very serious incident, if it is occurring. But many people are now using the words bullying and harassment without really understanding what they mean. And so if a complaint letter submitted with those words in it, people can automatically think that a formal investigation is required.

There would be more value in there being a preliminary investigation which means that the senior manager or HR might sit down with the complainant and ask them a few questions to elaborate on what their complaint is about and why they are raising the complaint, and also what outcomes are they looking for. Because sometimes the complainant will say I just want to be able to work well with this person, have a conversation with them. And if that's the case, if they're looking to restore workplace relationship, an investigation is not going to do that.

So where the allegations aren't serious in nature, they're not being repeatedly occurring in the workplace, very minor incidents, perhaps interpersonal conflict, differences of opinion, differences in work styles perhaps, then I would be looking to mediate between those two parties.

We’ve compiled a resource of Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Investigations for managers and human resource personnel. The resource includes a video and pdf transcript of Catherine Gillespie, Managing Director of Workplace Conflict Resolution, answering 29 commonly asked questions. To access your copy of the video and transcript click here.

How does management know the difference between needing a mediation as opposed to a workplace investigation?

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.