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In addition to traditional workplace investigations, sometimes we are asked to conduct broader inquiries into concerns of systemic barriers and discriminatory policies and practices. To do so, we use a variety of information gathering techniques such as policy reviews, data analysis, questionnaires, focus groups and one-on-one interviews.
As the variety of matters for which organizations are seeking assistance continues to expand, I’ve noticed that many of the investigation tools and processes noted above can be useful when conducting various types of non-traditional investigations, which I collectively refer to as workplace assessments. A workplace assessment is a process that seeks to gather information relating to the culture, practices or behaviors in the workplace and to identify the root cause of any conflicts or issues, or to determine the effectiveness of a workplace’s operations in order to identify possible areas of improvement.
Some examples of circumstances that might warrant a workplace assessment include:
1. Dysfunctional Team
Sometimes there is conflict between members of a workplace team that cannot be attributed to particular individuals or incidents that could form the basis for a traditional investigation. In these instances, the conflict is often difficult to define and appears to be deeply entrenched. A workplace assessment that looks at the systems of the team and gathers information from team members about their experiences in the workplace can effectively identify root causes that will allow for a well-crafted resolution.
2. Leadership Review
Following a change in leadership, or where general concerns about management effectiveness are raised but do not support a formal investigation process, a leadership review can be a useful tool to gather information from employees and other managers about the effectiveness of their leadership and to identify potential areas of improvement.
3. “Temperature Check”
A workplace assessment conducted several months after a significant change in the workplace, such as the launch of a new policy, a re-organization or a change in corporate strategy, can be an effective way of gauging the impact of the change and determining whether its implementation is running effectively or needs to be rerouted.
Having now done many of the assessments noted above for our clients, we have found these to be a much-needed alternative to the traditional investigation model. They are often far more cost-effective and allow the organization to zero in on the problem in a more efficient manner.