In the interest of due-diligence with an internal investigation, thousands of documents must be reviewed, processed, and itemized. Internal processes must be reviewed and evaluated by an internal investigator. It may be necessary to interview employees regarding their knowledge of the matter—those accounts must be cataloged, transcribed, and placed in context within the investigation. In addition to the tangible resources that are expended during the investigation, there’s hundreds of hours of labor hours that must be invoiced and paid out. The Fulbright Litigation Trends Survey presented data that indicated internal investigation costs were already on the rise back in 2011. Excluding the cost of settlements and judgements, they reported a median spend with American corporations of $1.4 million. Almost a quarter of those businesses reporting spent an excess of $5 million or more regarding internal complaints. For large companies with a wealth of resources, $5 million may seem like a drop in the bucket, but there are many smaller businesses who could easily be bankrupted by such a price tag. Those same companies also do not have the budget to maintain a specialized internal investigations team to address internal complaints when they arise.
There is a wide variety of events that could trigger a corporate investigation. Perhaps an employee files a sexual harassment complaint against another. Perhaps a whistleblower brings attention to a pervasive internal problem. Whatever the cause, it’s up to leadership within the corporation or organization to ensure that the problem is addressed. While some entities have the budget for an internal investigation team, the investigation itself still places a strain on a business and its resources.
Private investigators are the perfect professionals to conduct your corporation’s culture audit for a number of reasons. Just to name a few, private investigators have similar skill sets to investigators who work in risk assessment, can conduct internal investigations without disruption, and can offer you a more customizable program that will fit your business.
Private investigators build successful practices because
they have a detailed eye for human behavior. When it comes to private
investigation, it’s not always just about what a subject is doing, but also why
they’re doing it. Because they have a wealth of experience in rationalizing and
predicting human behavior, private investigators might have an edge over
traditional corporate culture audits performed by risk assessment investigators.
What we know about the cycle of corporate culture indicates that there is a
cause/effect relationship between an employee’s level of engagement and how
successful the company or organization is in their internal operations. We also
know that an organization’s structure can directly affect how engaged employees
are. This is why private investigators are so invaluable. They can look at
characteristics of the workforce on paper and in real life to assess how
employees feed into the current cycle of corporate culture.
Risk assessment firms specialize in internal investigation,
but too often, leadership will neglect undergoing an audit because they believe
that it will be too much a daily disruption to internal operations. By virtue
of their profession, private investigators excel at blending in to their
environment, whether it’s in a busy street, or a quiet library. Whatever the
nature of their investigation, private investigators know how to conduct their
due-diligence without drawing attention to themselves or others. This skillset
is especially valuable if leadership wishes to conduct a covert internal
investigation. After all, people behave the most naturally when they believe they
aren’t being watched. In this way, private investigators can infiltrate businesses
and obtain necessary information without piquing the curiosity or suspicion of
Another hallmark of a private investigation’s profession is their flexibility and autonomy. Sometimes private investigators can very quickly pick up leads that other investigators cannot because they have autonomy other types of investigators do not. This flexibility gives private investigators the ability to customize any corporate culture audit program to fit your business’s needs. Some companies may be small, but do not have the traditional structure of a brick-and-mortar business. Other companies might be large, but have a workforce where millennials dominate the majority. This is where a private investigator’s diverse experience can allow them to identify the problems and prioritize the most prevalent problems to right the ship of corporate culture.
If your business or organization needs a corporate culture
audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our
corporate culture audit program. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business
Bureau, 5-star ratings with Google, and we are staffed by former military and
law enforcement personnel. Call 317-951-1100, or find us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
Are you ready to revamp your corporate culture in 2021?
As the world finally bids goodbye to one of the worst years in history, anxious and eager people everywhere are looking forward to what 2021 might bring. With the COVID-19 vaccine having been approved and administered, the country is finally beginning the slow process of healing from this pandemic, and both businesses and private citizens are making plans to move forward in the future. Part of moving forward is examining and improve the corporate culture of the workplace As employers gear up for another fiscal year under the restrictions of a global pandemic, many are seeking to transform their corporate culture to springboard operations once everything returns to business as usual.
That’s a tricky phrase, “business as usual.” Every business encounters corporate crises from time to time, like employee theft or other forms of internal corruption, but when the business has a pervasive repeating pattern of disruption to daily operations, there could a glaring problem with the corporate culture. Corporate culture is a reflection of how operations, relationships between employees, and enforcement by leadership interact to make up an employee’s experience in working with the company. Corporate culture in 2021 will be punctuated by restructuring, employee turnover, and policy reform in order to address systemic issues.
Corporate culture audits in 2021 are not only going to be a new trend, but they will be a necessity to retain employees and control costs. Undergoing corporate culture audits is the first real step in addressing pervasive issues within the workplace. Think of it as an annual physical or checkup with a physician for your business. When you go to the doctor, you undergo an examination, and the specialists run tests in order to determine how healthy you are—a corporate culture audit is no different. A corporate culture auditor comes in and evaluates the level of functionality within your corporation so you can start implementing strategies to improve and grow your business. A corporate culture audit is a type of internal investigation in which the source of pervasive issues are vetted and corrected by an internal investigator.
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. A private investigator may be the answer.
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 you need help changing your corporate culture in 2021, contact Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on how we can help you get to the bottom of your corporate culture issues. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
Essential Employees See Decline in Corporate Culture
In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, many states are currently living under lockdown, with Indiana in particular abiding by Governor Holcomb’s ‘stay-at-home order’. Residents are ordered to stay at home unless making essential trips for things like groceries, medical supplies, or reporting to essential jobs for essential tasks—all in the pursuit of reducing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. However, working persons across the nation are finding themselves in conflict with their employers regarding their compliance level with their state’s level of travel restrictions during the pandemic—landing some companies in hot water with their employees who have come forward citing a toxic corporate culture that some describe as choosing “profits over people.”
While the world watched China and Italy deal with devastating consequences of COVID-19, other countries like the United States struggled with how to respond. The Trump administration is currently facing criticism for the general handling of the pandemic with the consequences being felt across the nation. The homogenized body of information flowing from various sources, the compliance climate surrounding lockdowns has some businesses demonstrating their lack of understanding of what constitutes an “essential” job or business.
Media outlets of all shapes and kinds are publishing lists of essential jobs and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The list is much longer than many may think, with 35 different businesses and organizations deemed essential, from exterminators to funeral homes. One of the business types not on that list is recreational retail—businesses like GameStop, which sells video games, electronics, and gaming merchandise. Even after many states started initiating lockdowns, GameStop stores remained open, exposing employees and consumers alike to one another in reckless disregard for COVID-19 precautions. At the end of March, a former employee wrote an op-ed for Vice, detailing their declining relationship with the company over seven years, culminating with their departure after GameStop made the choice to keep stores open during the pandemic. Under the pseudonym “CT Collins”, the former employee described a corporate culture that was slowly deteriorating, “As corporate continued to increase expectations, associates began to lose motivation altogether. Since holidays alone, my store saw increased expectations in every metric we were tracked on, despite January and February being extraordinarily slow months…This despite the fact that our store had struggled to meet the previous targets, and our new game sales were nearly halved from the previous year.” Ahead of the highly-anticipated release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, GameStop certainly had an opportunity to recoup lost profits by remaining open during the launch of the popular life-simulator.
GameStop’s difficulty with the definition of “essential” has unflattering optics that demonstrate a level of indifference to their employees with regards to whether or not their contact with customers and each other can contribute to the rising epidemic of COVID-19. The op-ed by CT Collins already documented a declining corporate culture in which employees were trapped in a cycle of disengagement and apathy as a direct result of corporate expectations. Following the outcry from the employees, the decision was finally made to close GameStop stores in compliance with what has become known as “flattening the curve.” We can only hope that other businesses begin to revaluate how much of their daily operations can be conducted in the cloud—allowing employees to work from home and telecommute with the use of technology and business-to-business platforms.
GameStop is not the only retail giant getting bad press. Amazon has come under fire as a documented history of corporate culture issues, including an infamous incident in late 2019 in which an Amazon fulfillment associate died of cardiac arrest while on the warehouse floor and their fellow employees were told to “go back to work.” Now, an Amazon worker, Chris Smalls, has been fired for protesting the unsafe working conditions in the Staten Island warehouse where he works—one of the busiest in the nation. Given that millions now depend on delivery to get essential items, it’s not a surprise that Amazon is struggling, but employees are making their voices heard during these uncertain times, articulating their perceived lack of value to the corporation as many distribution centers fail to protect their employees from the spread of COVID-19.
Amazon is arguably essential as a distribution service that can put much-needed supplies in the hands of people who need them, but if the employees feel as if their employers have flagrant disregard for their health and safety, it should be no surprise that employees disengage and become vocal about their discomfort with the working environment. CEO Jeff Bezos has made repeated promises in the past to address the claims of toxic corporate culture within Amazon, but it seems that extraneous circumstances continue to bring out the very worst of capitalism within its distribution centers. As an “essential” business, Amazon has a responsibility to its employees to ensure they have a safe working environment by respecting social distancing protocol and providing safety equipment to protect them during the outbreak.
Disregarding restrictions set by the Center for Disease Control and other federal agencies during a pandemic as a non-essential business is a perfect storm for rapid deterioration of corporate culture. Even if the corporate culture was previously healthy within a company or organization, such blatant disregard for health and safety become a malignancy within the workforce, where employees do not feel valued, and disengage from their jobs, leading to further drop in productivity. To prevent this from happening to your company, the steps are really very simple:
If you’re not one of the designated “essential” business types, it’s imperative to allow your employees to do as much work as possible from home, and close all brick-and-mortar locations that would allow the continued spread of COVID-19.
If you are an “essential business,” carefully evaluate within the context of your business model constitutes an essential job or task. If it can be done over the phone, over email, or over video-conference, it should be.
Take advantage of any opportunity to limit human contact. Keep all on-site workers a strict 6 feet apart, encourage heavy hand-washing and commitment to maintaining excellent sanitary conditions in the workspace.
The bottom line is that taking care of your essential employees in this uncertain time can only positively impact your workforce. When physical risk is not a part of the job description, it is easy for employees to feel inherently undervalued when they’re asked to risk their health in the interest of their job. Disregarding the limits put in place for the betterment of public health can only incite decline in your corporate culture.
Corporate Investigations Move to Telecommunications
During COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19, or “the corona virus” has already had an
unprecedented effect on the world’s economy in the 21st century.
Millions across the globe are currently practicing self-quarantine or
“social-distancing”, while many workplaces are shutting down in order to
prevent the spread of the virus. While many struggle during this time of social
isolation, internal investigations in corporations and organizations are
experiencing major disruption as well. Corporate investigators can continue to
expect unique challenges with internal investigations, and will have to rely on
telecommunications in order to continue their due-diligence.
Any seasoned investigator will tell you that one of the
greatest challenges with internal investigations is developing rapport with the
human sources in the case. This is usually achieved by face-to-face
interaction, bringing down the witness’ guard, and evaluating everything from
their facial expressions to their body language. With everyone working from
home (or not at all), internal investigators have lost access to face-to-face contact
with those human sources and witnesses. Investigators have transitioned to
conducting crucial interviews over the phone, which may not have as many
drawbacks as you think.
Internal investigations can already by tricky without the benefit of seeing the other person’s face or actions. We’re often told that a person’s actions—not their words—are a good indicator of honest or dishonest accounts of any type of incident. Are they blinking too much, or not enough? Are they touching their face? Are they inexplicably breaking out in sweat or becoming flushed? These are all clues private investigators and corporate investigators consider when determining the veracity of a witness’ story. But can you find the truth from only hearing a person’s voice?
Studies indicate that human beings actually can tell a lot more from a person’s voice than their body language when it comes to gauging their level of honesty. Michael Johnson, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney and CEO of Clear Law Institute, stated “While there are some non-verbal cues to lying, most people don’t know what those are, and sometimes they are the opposite of what you think.” Conducting corporate investigations over the phone doesn’t mean investigators still can’t garner helpful information. Without the distraction of visual stimuli, investigators are able to take detailed notes about a person’s story—the timeline, the verbiage, the tone. Investigators are able to detect inconsistencies in the witness’ story and ask follow-up questions for further context that can benefit the investigation. An interview over the phone also removes any personal biases that an investigator can potentially develop from seeing someone in person with regards to their physical appearance, such as sex, race, and class. The investigator is forced to rely on the information, and is less vulnerable to deception on the part of the witness.
In uncertain times, it feels as though COVID-19 has brought
the entire world to a halt. That’s why investigators must lean into one of
their greatest skills, which is flexibility. Quarantine doesn’t mean that
investigators have to stop their investigations, but they must instead adapt
their existing skillset to ensure that the wheels of progress will continue to
turn—even in crisis.
Corporations and institutions with relative high visibility have a lot to lose when internal misconduct is exposed. If you are an institution, such as a school, prison, or government body, internal misconduct can strongly shake the public’s confidence in how that misconduct will impact the groups and communities being served. Embarrassing, pervasive issues, such as a business party culture, can really drive down faith in your brand. If you’re a large corporate chain, such as Walmart, or McDonald’s, your corporate culture is subject to criticism from current/past employees, with heavy emphasis on how that corporate culture effects both productivity and the workforce.
Just one week after ringing in the new year, McDonald’s current CEO, Chris Kempczinski, has announced that he plans to bring an end to the business party culture embroiled in their corporate atmosphere. According to The Wall Street Journal, Kempczinski, “…is seeking to restore a more professional culture at McDonald’s after what some current and former employees described as an environment influenced by his predecessor’s late-night socializing with some executives and staffers at bars and flirtations with female employees…” This business party culture was pervasive. His predecessor, Steve Eastbrook, was terminated in November of 2019 after he confessed to having a relationship with an employee. What is particularly problematic about these circumstances is that healthy corporate culture begins with leadership. When leadership behaves ethically within the organization, employees are more likely to follow that example. When executives, managers, and supervisors are not held accountable for bad behavior, it sends a message to the rest of the organization that poisons the well of corporate culture.
But inappropriate personal conduct is not the only challenge
currently facing McDonald’s culture. Strains imposed by the franchises’
renovation program has franchisees challenging their relationship with the
corporation. In addition, unions are still reeling from a decision handed down
by a national union-organizing supervision board, which states that the
corporation will no longer be liable for labor violations committed by its
franchisees. Labor advocates who made their concerns apparent to the board were
ignored, and the decision came down with a 2-1 vote. In the background,
employees continue their cause of “Fight For 15,” in reference to their desire
to have McDonald’s starting wage raised to $15 per hour.
Kempczinski’s promise to diffuse a business party culture within the corporation is a promising start—however, in order to make meaningful changes to the corporation, there needs to be a top-to-bottom evaluation of internal processes, and of the behavior exhibited by leadership—both in the public view and behind closed doors. That is why so many institutions and corporations are subjecting their internal operations to a corporate culture audit to ensure that they won’t be caught unawares about the debilitating, pervasive issues within their organization. Regardless of quality, corporate culture moves in a cycle. The actions of leadership filter down through the workforce, influencing productivity and engagement from employees. Employees either contribute positively or negatively to the corporation as a result of that leadership, and that leads directly back to leadership in a supervisory capacity. For the sake of a long-beloved American corporation, let’s hope that Kempczinski follows through on his promise for change.