Most organizations are increasingly experiencing violations from their employees, and when necessary, a workplace investigation must be conducted. Even though some violations are more severe than others, they can harm the employee and the organization. They can be broadly classified under three major categories;

1.      Routine violation

A routine violation occurs when employees break the routines recommended for daily activities.  Most employees indulge in routine violations to save energy and time. They often believe that following the designated safety rules will slow them down. Unfortunately, many employees do not know the risks associated with routine violations when it is the leading cause of accidents and injuries in most workplaces. 

  1. Situational violation

Most employees indulge in situational violations because of sudden pressures at particular times. The right equipment may sometimes prevent employees from violating safety procedures. For example, in the absence of a scaffold, an employee may use a ladder when working at heights. Some employees indulge in situational violations because their jobs are boring and require repetitive tasks. A poor working environment that is cluttered can also increase the prevalence of situational violations from employees.

3.      Exceptional Violation

Exceptional violation often occurs when safety rules are broken to perform a new task or deal with an incidental event, like violations that occur during emergency procedures like explosions and fires. Nevertheless, anger, anxiety, and other emotions can also trigger exceptional violations. Examples of situations of exceptional violation triggered by emotions include sexual harassment, physical violence or threats to violence, spreading false rumors, using obscene language, cyberbullying, and destroying the belongings of a coworker or colleague. 

However, as an employer, it is your responsibility to conduct workplace investigations to uncover current or previous acts of violations by employees. There are many ways to conduct employee investigations on violations, but these steps will help you uncover both previous and current cases.

  1. Have a complaint mechanism put in place.

One of the best ways to help uncover violations in your organization during a workplace investigation is to put a complaint mechanism in place. But, you must ensure this mechanism allows employees to give tips anonymously. The truth is that some cases of violation go unnoticed because employees who witnessed them are afraid to come in front and speak. Therefore, you must also sensitize your employees about the existence of such a mechanism and encourage them to send tips on past and current acts of violation they have experienced. By so doing, you would uncover old and recent violation cases.  

2.      Have corporate awareness of what constitutes violation.

Some employees in organizations are ignorant about some forms of violation. Therefore, it makes sense to include sensitization in your workplace investigation plan as an employer. For example, you could seize the opportunity of an existing case of violation to sensitize your employees about all the forms of violation. This will not only help them identify future instances of violation, but some may also remember all the previous instances that went unreported due to ignorance.

3.      Gather evidence and analyze them.

Conducting employee investigations requires you and the investigation team to act promptly by gathering as much evidence as possible through interviews, emails, photos, videos, and records. Gathering these materials is one thing, and analyzing them correctly is another. You and the investigation team must ask follow-up questions to prove or disprove the complainant. In addition, the evidence gathered during the investigations may be a pointer toward previous acts of violation in your organization. If you get enough evidence that points to an earlier act of violation, you should investigate the matter and take the right actions. 

4.      Communicate effectively during the investigations.

Effective communication is crucial to a workplace investigation of violation. If you can communicate effectively with all the parties involved, you will likely extract valuable information that can be useful in uncovering previous and current acts of violation. However, a pro tip for effective communication is to listen carefully to your interviewees and ask them relevant follow-up questions to get as much information as possible.

5.      Provide the complainant with a healthy working environment.

While workplace investigations are ongoing, it would help if you provided the complainant with a healthy working environment. In addition, keeping the complainant safe will encourage him to cooperate with the investigations team for the employees’ overall well-being. Of course, cooperation will include citing past instances of violation and giving suggestions on how to prevent them from recurring.