Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.
Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both
their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending
internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have
internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the
integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many
corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders,
customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This
means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny
within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will
a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.
Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal
investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility
of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and
professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks
an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is
establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the
workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the
Investigators must establish credibility with the client and
relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware
that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying
problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of
accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or
In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must
be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to
achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must
never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know
the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a
business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same
token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there
might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as
turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.
Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.
Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.
Regardless of the industry, all businesses should be
vigilant with regards to employee theft. Employee theft can come in all shapes
and sizes, from an administrative assistant pocketing some extra Post-Its to
hardcore embezzlement on behalf of leadership. It can be easy to dismiss
repeated instances of employee theft as isolated incidents, implementing
disciplinary action or termination, and moving on with the work week. However,
many executives and managers may not realize that repeated instances of employee
theft could be indicative of a much larger problem in their corporation or
From a position of leadership, it’s easy to dismiss a single instance of employee theft; the employee is the one who made a choice to steal from their company or organization, and that employee was wrong for doing so. Discipline or termination typically follows, and leadership walks away feeling confident that they’ve removed a bad apple from their barrel. However, pervasive issues with employee theft are symptomatic of a systematic problem within the business or organization that go beyond a single employee’s bad judgement.
Why do employees steal?
The three most common reasons employees steal are not very
difficult to understand.
employees feel as though their employer has wronged them, or their compensation is inadequate.
employees believe that employers insure such losses—therefore it is a victimless crime.
employees know they will not be held accountable if they are caught
All of these reasons may characterize the employee as “disgruntled,” a term with a cultural context that often absolves the employer of any misconduct. When a corporation or organization has repeated instances of multiple employees committing theft, it’s a sign that the corporate culture of the workplace is less than healthy. A single employee pilfering staplers is not symptomatic of unhealthy corporate culture, but 5 employees pilfering staplers is a sign that employees do not feel valued, and therefore do not respect their employer.
The cycle of healthy corporate culture always begins with happy employees, because when employees are happy, they are more engaged, and contribute positively to the productivity of the organization. This pleases leadership, which incentivizes them to make decisions that raise morale, such as rewarding success with pay-raises, benefits, and thoughtful, constructive collaboration. The cycle begins anew with happy employees. Poor corporate culture means that undervalued employees will contribute negatively to workplace productivity. One of the ways poor corporate culture manifests is through employee theft—and it’s not just about profits or staplers. When employees are disengaged from their duties, they’re more likely to take extraneous breaks, or taking longer breaks than permitted, which is theft of company time. This often comes from a rationalized perspective, in which the employee does not feel their own time is valued within the organization, and therefore will place the same perceived value on company time.
Whatever the type of theft, repeated instances of employee theft cannot be ignored. It may be a sign that your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is like a check-up—when you go into the doctor for a standard check-up, they evaluate all of your major bodily functions for signs of disease or deterioration, and a corporate culture audit is no different. When investigators conduct a corporate culture audit, they evaluate all of your business’s internal operations, hiring processes, and principle employees for roadblocks that hinder productivity and contribute to poor corporate culture. The identification of these pervasive issues will lead to investigators providing leadership with expert recommendations to dislodge the blockage, allowing the cycle of corporate culture to right itself through cause and effect.
If you think your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our Corporate Culture Audit program. For over 30 years, Lauth has been providing corporations with solutions to stimulate their business. In pursuit of truth, call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com.
The #MeToo movement has fundamentally changed the conversation around reporting and documenting allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. Victims of this harassment have previously been restricted by a pervasive culture of silence and shame within the workplace—a culture where reporters are vilified and characterized as dishonest people with an axe to grind. Now, with many victims of sexual harassment publicizing their experiences in the workplace, more and more people are feeling empowered to seek justice for their treatment.
The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported in their annual fiscal report that sexual harassment filings had an overall increase of 13.6% from 2018. The EEOC also denoted that they secured nearly $70 million for the victims of sexual harassment through enforcement on behalf of administration. These are just a few ways that the EEOC is attempting to make themselves the new champions of workplace harassment reporting in effort to improve the culture around reporting and enforcement. The EEOC seeks to empower employers to create a corporate culture within their organization that does not demonize reporting and encourages thorough investigations of all claims. By fostering this open and transparent workplace culture, employers create spaces for their employees that are safe, respectful, and thriving environment.
For a myriad of reasons, employers may have difficulty in
performing due-diligence on sexual harassment claims. Whether the employer does
not find the complaint credible, or as a result of oversight, when no
investigation is conducted into the complaint, the organization opens itself up
to subsequent litigation and a public relations nightmare. However, there are
affirmative defenses for employers who can document their attempts to create a
safe environment for their employees. One of the ways employers can document
this is by submitting their organization to a corporate culture audit.
A corporate culture audit is one of the best investments that an employer can make in 2019. These audits are typically conducted by independent risk assessment firms and in some cases, even private investigators. In essence, a corporate culture audit is basically a check-up for a business or organization—not unlike taking your car in for scheduled maintenance. An auditor will enter the work environment and conduct a series of assessments based on a previously-set agenda. The goal of the auditor is to review internal processes and the physical location (if applicable) and identify issues that could have negative consequences for the corporation or organization, such as faulty investigation procedures for internal complaints.
Not only can these audits protect businesses and organizations
in the aftermath of a sexual harassment claim, but corporate culture audits can
also improve your business from within. What we know about the cycle of
corporate culture indicates that when employees feel valued, they are more
engaged and more productive as a result. The audit also evaluates the
organization’s internal operations for efficacy and efficiency. By identifying
flaws within internal operations, corporations can modify those procedures to increase
productivity. Corporate culture audits are an invaluable opportunity for
organizations to bolster their business and improve the overall health of the
If you want to give your business a tune-up, call Lauth
Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture
program. We are an independent private investigation firm specializing in corporate
investigations and crimes against persons. We have an A+ rating with the Better
Business Bureau and scores of 5-star ratings on Google. Call today and learn
how we can improve your business from within.
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.
With retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon at the forefront of consumer watchdogs, the conversation around corporate culture and how it affects business continues to become inwardly focused. The nature of capitalism and supply-and-demand business models sometimes stand in the way of true reform when it comes to some of the nation’s most profitable corporations. Despite major retailers like Walmart and Kroger vowing to improve culture in several arenas of their business, the actual enforcement of these new “policies” has employees feeling lukewarm.
Walmart has recently been at the forefront of several different types of corporate crisis. Most notably, the tragic active shooter event at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas that killed 20 people and left dozens more injured. This horrible event is an example of a contextual corporate crisis, in which external events directly affect the public’s perception of the company. While contextual corporate crises typically have little to do with internal operations, the ever-growing epidemic of gun violence in the United States has CEOs and leadership of large retailers like Walmart rethinking their strategies. Since the shootings, Walmart CEO and President, Doug McMillon has announced the retailer will now discontinue sales of ammunition in their stores for handguns and military-style firearms like AR-15s. More notably, McMillion also said the company would “respectfully request that customers no longer openly carry firearms into their stores” with the exception of law enforcement. For many in the nation, “respectfully requesting” customers not openly carry in their stores is not enough, but it is symptomatic of changes in a capitalist society.
Following the tragedy at El Paso, eight more stores received threats of varying specificity. In the wake of the statement by McMillion, gun rights activists are already reporting individual stores are not enforcing their “respectful request” to not openly carry in their stores. David Amad, the vice president of Open Carry Texas, has reported members of the organization had openly carried in their local Walmart and not a single member was asked to leave, despite their visible firearm. When asked about it, Amad was quoted as saying, “They’re ducking the issue. They are trying to get the gun haters to leave them alone, while at the same time leave us alone when we carry in their stores.”
When it comes to improving the culture and perception of a company in the public eye, there can be no room for soft enforcement of policy. Revised, enforced policies are how companies improve their culture, and no one knows that better than the employees who are seeing internal operations every day. According to the New York Times, “Walmart employees are instructed not to obstruct peaceful shoppers from openly carrying guns in the stores…But if an employee or customer feels unsafe, the store workers should call law enforcement.”
What we know about the cycle of good corporate culture indicates that when employees feel valued, they remain engaged in operations and contribute to the overall improved health of the company. It is not a leap at all to assume employees who do not feel safe in the workplace do not maintain high engagement in daily operations. This is a corporation that is already the subject of gratuitous coverage involving internal issues, such as compensation, work conditions, and how toxic corporate culture continues to pervade within the organization. Now the soft enforcement of no open-carrying in Walmart stores may cause employees to further lose hope that the retail giant will ever make meaningful changes within the organization. Research has shown, as the workforce continues to age, corporations will have no choice but to improve their corporate culture, or risk a consistent pattern of turnover and decline in profits. Glassdoor reported millennials are the largest generation within the workforce currently, and they are the prospective employees who will make unprecedented choices in their employment, favoring healthy corporate culture over high rates of compensation. If corporations wish to retain otherwise dedicated employees for the continued growth of their organization, they’re level of integrity in changing their corporation’s culture must have a stronger resolve.