Internal investigations are a tricky and turbulent tide that intimidates many corporations and organizations into staying out of the water all together. Internal investigations can be costly and draw on precious time and resources that are needed elsewhere within the organization. Employees within the corporation or organization might not have the necessary training to conduct a comprehensive, unbiased investigation. However, leadership across the board is beginning to realize that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and must clarify their definition of due-diligence and compliance.
When there are pervasive issues in your corporation or organization, internal investigations are a necessary evil to get to the root of the problem. In recent years, the public’s interest in internal investigations continues to grow as individuals seek to break the culture of silence that surrounds many industries. This is in the interest of ultimately changing the professional climate that allows abuses and misconduct to occur within the organization. Cultural waves of awareness and learning—like those that occurred during the #MeToo movement, and the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement—bring more attention to some of corporate America’s most pervasive issues, including sexual harassment, racism, and discrimination. Now leadership is seeking the advice of consultants and risk management experts in order to erode bigoted phenomena from their workplace.
Internal investigations are the first step in solving a pervasive workplace issue. One of the recent viral news stories regarding internal investigations are the stories surrounding The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in which multiple current and former employees have come forward to share their stories of a ‘toxic workplace’ culture that included multiple claims of sexual harassment. Following an internal investigation implemented by DeGeneres, three producers left the show. The Warner Brothers spokesperson who commented was not specific about whether the producers had quit or been fired, but what remains clear is that all men were accused of misconduct. Several former employees have accused producer Ed Glavin of “inappropriate touching, and leading with intimidation and fear.” Former employees have also accused producers Kevin Leman and Johnathan Norman of sexual harassment. Norman and Leman have vehemently denied the allegations made against them, while Glavin has remained silent on the allegations against him.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show faced public backlash and uncertainty in the weeks following the initial allegations, but their commitment to solving these problems kept the court of public opinion at bay through their internal investigation. Corporations would do themselves a service by conducting internal investigations into repeated patterns of misconduct, but not every company has the personnel to do this. Human resource employees are incredible individuals who help keep a corporation or organization running like a well-oiled machine. They are the gatekeepers who bring a new employee into the workforce, and they are the first line of defense when an employee has a problem in the workplace. While a human resources employee might have a sophisticated degree, unless they have diverse experience in conducting corporate investigations, they may not be equipped to handle an internal investigation. Important facts could slip through the cracks, leads could go unexplored, leading to disastrous consequences for the corporation down the line.
Internal investigations are attractive for a number of reasons. Internal investigators work directly for the corporation or organization in question, and know the ins and outs of the business and can conduct the investigation in the best interest of the corporation. Internal investigations are handled by agents of the corporation and do not have to be mitigated in any way. Most importantly, internal investigations are just that—internal—and therefore away from the prying eyes of public opinion. Despite all of the attractive reasons to have an internal investigation, they do not guarantee a protective veneer of integrity that fortifies the end result.
Internal investigations are necessary, but they don’t necessarily have to be internal. Private investigators are completely independent of the corporations that retain them. Though they are paid for their services, it is not in the bet interest of a private investigator to be loyal to anything less than the truth. Complete transparency and integrity are the cornerstone of their business. Therefore, a private investigator is a perfect individual to document internal issues for an organization, because they are inherently without bias and are able to maintain complete objectivity. With Lauth’s corporate investigators on your side, you’ll receive the unvarnished reality regarding the internal problems in your corporation or organization.
If your corporation or organization is experiencing repeated instances of internal difficulty, it might be time for a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is a program that examines the internal policies of a corporation or organization, how those policies are enforced, how they effect the employees, and how those employees relate to each other as a result. If the corporate culture in a company is good, that positivity is baked into the internal operations, employees feel valued by their organization, and therefore will remain engaged and invested in maintaining productivity. Pervasive, repeated internal problems may not stem from a single factor, but the entire corporate culture of the workplace. Think of a corporate culture audit like a medical check-up for a business or organization. Lauth’s investigators evaluate the culture from leadership down, identifying the major factors in disruption, and advise leadership on how to improve their business from within. For more information on our corporate culture audit program, click here.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues throughout the globe, corporate diversity is once again on the minds of leadership in the United States. Leadership has begun developing strategies to improve diversity in their structure. Regardless of the motivations behind resisting this change, leadership might not understand that corporate diversity is a measure that not only elevates BIPOC professionals, but will improve the quality of life within the corporation.
When leadership is singular in representation, it cannot
possibly consider all the needs of everyone in the organization. Leadership
that is composed entirely of White executives will have a functional blindness
or bias towards the needs of non-White employees. Not only will they leave
their non-White employees feeling undervalued, but corporations can be selling
themselves short on opportunity to improve business from within, and ultimately
One of the most obvious benefits to having corporate
diversity—both at the executive level and below—is that diversity breeds
innovation and creativity. When a corporation continually relies on the same
thinktank of people who all come from similar backgrounds and have similar
experiences, you will eventually begin to see a patter in the same 15 ideas or
solutions generated by that thinktank. Workforces with diverse backgrounds see
a more diverse array of ideas, innovations, and solutions to challenges faced
in the workplace and in the market.
The more corporate diversity you have, the more likely your
team will generate ideas and solutions that will better serve your customer
base. Different skills and different histories of experience will lead to a
more unique brainstorm—from the conference room to the loading dock. According
to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, businesses with corporate
diversity are able to find solutions to problems faster than teams of employees
from similar backgrounds. The speed attributed to corporate diversity is due in
part to the fact that these corporations foster an environment that promotes a
free exchange of ideas, where everyone has a place at the table and their voice
is heard. That is the sort of corporate culture all businesses should be
Diversity is more than a two-pronged approach, but it is important that you have diversity from the top down, and that every person feel as though they can safely bring ideas, concerns, or solutions to the table. By encouraging this diversity, you make sure every person on your team feels as though their voice is being heard. When employees feel heard and valued, the corporate culture of the entire business significantly improves. We know the effects of corporate culture move in a cycle. Employees are either positively or negatively impacted by engagement and validation from leadership, which in turn effects their own engagement, which directly impacts their level of output. As corporate culture improves, output increases. The elevation of those diverse voices has the capacity to save your corporation money in billable hours, workplace lawsuits, and engagement.
Corporate culture audit
At Lauth Investigations International, we pride ourselves on
using our intelligence services to connect business leadership with the
solutions they need to improve their company from within. If you suspect your
business is suffering due to a lack of diversity, call Lauth Investigations
International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit.
Every corporation needs an excellent in-house attorney to fight complex legal battles in their stead—someone to act in the best interests of the company and its future. In addition to the everyday intricacies of business litigation, house counsel may also have to field lawsuits from current or former employees who have a legal objection to something that happened during their tenure at the business. When employee lawsuits become a pervasive issue at a business, not only is the cost in billable hours exponential, but the legal judgements that result from these litigations can be devastating for companies. While litigation in general can be characterized as the cost of doing business, companies with healthy corporate culture experience a much lower rate of employee lawsuits. So, how can healthy corporate culture reduce the chance of a lawsuit?
Corporations across the United States are starting to understand the value of healthy corporate culture. Employee lawsuits aside, unhealthy corporate culture can have detrimental, snowballing effects that occur when employees are unhappy in their capacity and unengaged in their work. This is why corporations must improve their culture from within, so that employee retention and productivity remain high. Corporations also have millennials making up the majority of the workforce in the nation, complete with a set of values that propels them to seek a better work-life balance. This means that millennials are less likely to stay in a job where they are unhappy, and will simply seek a more amendable opportunity that allows them to have the work-life balance they desire.
When employees do not feel heard or valued by their employer, they’re far more likely to file a lawsuit related to their grievance. And unfortunately, no company is safe. In 2010, 99,922 EEOC charges were filed in the state of Florida alone, a datapoint that makes leadership wonder not if they’ll be the target of a lawsuit, but when. Employee lawsuits can drag out over months or even years, exponentially getting more expensive. The average settlement in an employee claim or lawsuit is $40,000. That expense alone can be devastating to a company, but that does not account for the disruption to daily operations, and the fact that litigation costs are on a steady rise. In 10% of cases, settlements result in $1 million or greater, a sum that could be the beginning of the end for many medium to small corporations.
The risk of a lawsuit can be even greater depending on the state in which it is filed. According to the Hiscox Group, a majority of states carry around a 10% change of having an employee lawsuit filed against them. However, in Georgia, the probability is 19%. In states like New Mexico, California, and Nevada, the probability can be as high as 55%. The area with the highest probability of litigation is the District of Columbia, with a terrifying 81% chance. The reason for the wide range in probabilities is two-fold: First, the legal standards in each state regarding discrimination and hostile work environments can vary. Secondly, the states with higher risks have more binding laws regarding litigation that can create extra hurdles for companies at the state level. This is why corporations must stay current on employment legislation, especially if they have locations across multiple states/jurisdictions.
So, how can corporations protect themselves against litigation from current or former employees? In-house counsel fields lawsuits when they are filed, but did you know there was a more proactive method to combatting employee litigation? The answer is simple: healthy corporate culture. When a corporation has a healthy corporate culture, it means that the employees feel valued by their employers in their capacity within the organization. It means that employees who feel valued are engaged, thereby greasing the wheels of internal, daily operations. This increased productivity means progress for the company, and the cycle of healthy corporate culture begins anew with leadership rewarding engaged employees for their hard work.
Research shows that the number one reason behind employee lawsuits is retaliation. In an average scenario, the employee reports an internal issue, usually regarding a form of discrimination. Following the inclusion of the investigation, when the employee cannot track for upward mobility, or a form of unwarranted disciplinary action occurs, they assume the reason is for reporting the previous issue. This can result in that employee filing a lawsuit for receiving unfair treatment on behalf of their employer. When organizations have healthy corporate culture, this is far less likely to occur.
If your company or organization needs a corporate culture overhaul, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. We can help you improve your business from within and decrease the likelihood of employee lawsuits. When it comes to your business, you should expect facts, not fiction.
Culture can be the beginning and end of your company. Many executives and other members of leadership simply think of corporate culture as what the company stands for. This can be expressed through a corporation’s mission statement, their reported “vision,” or their promise to deliver their customers with the best products and services available. Corporate culture actually goes much deeper, beneath the surface to which the consumer public is privy. The MISTI Training Institute actually defines corporate culture as “the set of enduring and underlying assumptions and norms that determine how things are actually done in the organization.” It is not enough for leadership to state that they have inspiring beliefs and mission statements, if they do not run corporations to reflect those beliefs.
Even after hearing a more definitive explanation of
corporate culture, many executives may still shrug their shoulders and insist
that they have a great corporate culture. They think operations are
streamlined, employees are engaged, and there are no weak links in the chain.
They take solace in the fact that they have things like Taco Tuesdays, or
Casual Fridays that improve the work environment and keep employees happy.
While these are great ways to foster comradery within the workforce, they are
band aid solutions to happy employees. The bottom line is: Healthy corporate
culture begins with happy employees.
A recent study conducted by Glassdoor indicates that a
majority of working individuals in the United States would prefer a healthy
corporate culture to a higher salary or rate of pay. Their day-to-day becomes
manageable when they feel as if they are part of a larger team. This graphic
displays the cyclical nature of healthy corporate culture in motion. The cycle
begins with happy employees. When trying to improve employee morale, leadership
should strongly consider an internal audit of their company’s culture to
identify pervasive issues within their corporation’s operating structure.
Events like birthday parties for employees, or buying lunch for the office
every few weeks are nice gestures by leadership, but they cannot act as
solutions to repetitive issues. When these issues are not addressed within the
corporation, employees often feel as if their value begins and ends with their
productivity, as if they are cogs in a larger machine they cannot control. When
leadership actively engages with employee concern on operation issues and makes
dedicated and focused attempts to fix them, employees feel as if their voices
are heard and their input is valued within the organization.
This leads to improved engagement on behalf of those valued
employees. They are prompt to work, freshly-groomed and instilled with a sense
of purpose as their co-workers progress with them towards the organization’s
goal. The level of communication between employees will not only improve in
quality, but the rate of response to correspondence also has the potential to
increase dramatically, because the employees are engaged in the process and are
eager to complete tasks on time—possibly even early.
Once employee engagement is up, leadership can expect to see
an increase in the productivity of the workforce as a whole. Engaged employees
approach their task with the confidence of a professional, and the confidence
that comes from the feeling of support within the organization. Studies have
shown that productivity can increase by as much as 28% when a corporation’s
culture is given a major overhaul.
When productivity increases, everybody in the company
benefits. Having their requisites satisfied, leadership can let their focus
extend beyond daily operations. This expanded scope of supervision leads to
higher engagement on behalf of leadership, which feeds back into a healthy work
environment in which they are happy to reward the stellar performance of their
employees. When employees feel their work is valued, the cycle begins anew.
This shared body of beliefs that the company claims to have
in the public eye should go all the way to the CEO and be directly reflected in
the day to day operations of the company. When leadership remains plugged in
and continues to expand the scope of their supervision, internal issues cannot
pervade within the workplace. In healthy work environments, the level of
improvement that can occur week to week will only serve the company’s larger
Employee apathy may seem innocuous enough, but the costs to time and resources can be a slow, devastating drain on a corporation. Many corporations and organizations have at least one employee who exhibits all the major signs of checking out in their daily capacity. Even if your corporation has bulletproofed human resource operations, employee burnout can still occur. That’s why it’s imperative for leadership and management to know and identify the signs of apathy on the part of an employee.
Signs of Employee Apathy
A repeated pattern of tardiness
Poor appearance and hygiene
Complaints about lack of money and/or repeated
attempts to borrow money
Exclusive precedence on their personal life
An excess of breaks
Appearance of being busy with nothing to show
Lack of accountability, making excuses
Irrelevant preoccupation with cell phones, smart
It stands to reason that if an employee is underperforming
at their job, leadership will cut the dead weight for the good of a
corporation. There are actually three umbrella categories that are often used
to justify retaining apathetic employees: Costs, Litigation, and Personal.
The first thing leadership will think of when they notice
an apathetic employee is dollar signs. Not only is the apathetic employee hemorrhaging
their money by wasting time and resources, but the cost to replace that
apathetic employee can also be an issue. Costs are incurred to the human
resources department to find, hire, and train a replacement. Employers might
hesitate to fire an apathetic employee because of unemployment insurance rates.
Another relevant factor specifically effects small businesses, in which the
workforce is not large enough to support turnover operations.
When it’s not a matter of money, it can often be a matter
of personal feelings or relationships concerning leadership and the apathetic
employee. A manager or owner might have a personal relationship with the
employee, and their bias prevents them from pulling the trigger on termination
procedures. Personal knowledge of that employee’s personal life and their
identity as a person (rather than an employee) can color their perceptions and
increase their latitude with the employee. Avoidance behavior can also play a
role. When this happens, leadership usually resigns itself to one of two end results:
Either the employee will improve on their own without intervention from
leadership, or they will leave on their own without termination proceedings.
The independent judgement of leadership may not be the
sticking point in terminating an apathetic employee. There are often legal factors
that a corporation or organization must consider. For instance, the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (AEDA) protects employees from being
terminated based on their age. If an apathetic employee is of a certain age,
leadership may fear legal retaliation, citing age discrimination as the reason
for their termination. In higher education, an employee may have tenure as defined
by the institution, which would prevent leadership from terminating them.
Risks in Retention
Retaining apathetic employees for any of the reasons
listed above can have serious consequences for a company who is avoiding the
issue or trying to save money. Apathetic/underperforming employees cannot
provide a customer base with quality service, leading to dissatisfaction and
consumer complaints. This can negatively impact the corporation’s brand or
campaign, with a high risk of human error, loss of valued customers, and lost
reputation. Disgruntled employees could potentially say negative things about the
corporation on their social media accounts. Perhaps most concerning, apathetic
employees can easily spread their attitude throughout a work force, and harm long-term
goals for the corporation.
Corporate Culture Audits
One apathetic employee is enough of a drain on company time and resources, but if that attitude is contagious, you could have a larger problem on your hands. Unfortunately, when it comes to employee morale and performance, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why so many corporations and organizations are investing in quarterly or even biannual corporate culture audits. With a corporate culture audit, an independent, third party firm, like a private investigator or security company, conducts a full overview of company operations, structure, and environment in order to identify problems at their source for the health of the corporation. With a corporate culture audit, leadership will be able to identify factors that might be contributing to employee apathy.