While the reporting of workplace harassment and bullying and the subsequent workplace investigation are critical steps toward setting things right, the process and outcomes of a workplace investigation can be upsetting for some workers and disruptive to relationships in the workplace.

Conflict of Interest Investigations While actions and recommendations arising from an investigation may serve to root out inappropriate or even criminal behaviour, often, the damage done to an organisation by the perpetrators cannot be repaired by simply removing those responsible or by imposing disciplinary action upon someone.

Negative behaviours that lead to workplace harassment and bullying often occur over a long period of time before they are even reported, never mind managed. This means often that a negative culture has been allowed to fester which operates way beyond the people directly involved in the investigation.

Often, as the conflictual situation continues, the organisation starts to develop sub-cultures within groups of people that effectively start to work against each other rather than helping them to work effectively together.

This means that the vision, strategy, values and organisational objectives become compromised.

People involved in negative office politics or long term contentious behaviours impact not only their own performance but also of all the people they interact with.

Motivation is directly linked to people’s belief that they can make a difference, add value and that their efforts can positively influence the results they achieve. In an environment where motivation starts to dwindle  employee engagement is often replaced by a ‘survival’ mode of operation. If no appropriate action is taken to fix the initial cause of the conflict, or if indeed the conflict is at a management level, people start to lose trust and faith in the leadership team and organisational performance drops even further.

Think, for a moment, about the number of people who are impacted by the negative sub culture that emerges around conflict or contentious behaviours. In doing so, an organisation can easily and quickly identify the cost of such behaviours.

RESIDUAL IMPACT OF WORKPLACE INVESTIGATIONS

Whilst a necessary step in managing complaints of misconduct, a workplace investigation can, in itself, have a negative impact upon a workplace, particularly for those involved as witnesses.

Investigation interviews can be intense and confronting for anyone unused to them. Participants can be left feeling wrung out and conflicted over being asked to give information that might impact a person’s employment or which may create tension between coworkers.

Managing the aftermath of an investigation is almost as important as the investigation itself.

COSTS OF WORKPLACE POLITICS AND BULLYING

  • TIME LOST. Workplace conflict is time consuming. Workers involved in conflict situations will be less productive due to time spent managing the conflict. This can amount to literally hundreds of lost hours in a year.
  • MORE SICK LEAVE. Long term conflict at work is a major stressor and a significant cause of physical and mental illness.
  • LOSS OF TRUST. As trust levels drop the opportunity for continuous improvement dies out to be replaced with skepticism and non-productivity.
  • RESISTANCE TO CHANGE. Change management requires stakeholder buy-in and stakeholder buy-in requires a level of trust. In conflict zones, trust for management is often at a low.
  • LACK OF BELIEF IN LEADERSHIP. When management is not seen to proactively manage negative cultures, the workforce will come to believe that these negative behaviours are accepted and appropriate. Strategy becomes replaced by short term protectionism.
  • LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY. When people feel they have little ability to influence their environment, they are less able to take responsibility or be accountable.
  • INCREASED REWORK. People who do not trust their peers need to spend much more time checking the work of others to make sure they are not being ‘blamed’ for mistakes they did not make.

BEST WAY TO COUNTER NEGATIVE EFFECTS

Workplace Resolutions and MediationThe best way to counter these negative effects and high costs to the company are:

  • Increase people’s ability to deal with negative behaviours – increase emotional intelligence levels in the organisation
  • Re-align, strategy, objectives, value and culture
  • Ensure the right processes and policies are in place
  • Work with the teams to rebuild team trust and synergy, both within and across teams
  • Provide support for the individuals left to pick up the pieces

Based on the report during the investigation we provide a fully bespoke programme that will minimise the costs to the organisation and ensure that productive, efficient and effective ways of working are re-established as quickly as possible after the disruption of work place harassment or bully.

As each situation and company is unique we use a robust and well established framework to create a programme that is specifically designed to meet the requirements of the situation.

OUR PROGRAMMES

  • Cultural re-alignment: company wide, leadership driven values, behaviours and culture programme of facilitation, processes and policy reviews, communication and a tactical plan to move forward in a positive manner
  • Enhancing emotional intelligence: 2-day group workshop
  • Work with individuals: one-to-one coaching to work with residual effects of long term contentious behaviours in the organisation.