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What Your CEO Wants from a Good Investigation Program

Apr 3, 2017
Deb Muller

According to one report from Deloitte University Press, CEOs and other executives are more worried about talent than ever before. Nearly nine out of ten leaders are deeply concerned about culture and employee engagement, which are critical for organizational performance. While it may seem like investigations are disconnected from these concerns, they are in fact deeply linked. Organizations must create environments that both protect workers and offer an engaging experience, and a good investigation program can help to meet that need.

If asked, most HR and compliance leaders would say that the key role of an investigation program is to reduce risk, but that only grabs attention when there is significant risk to be managed. What if companies instead looked at the positive outcomes of having a strong program in place when evaluating its ROI how would that change the conversation?


These points help to connect the dots on how to ensure investigation programs have a broader, deeper impact on organizational functions. Each of these is a powerful outcome in its own right, but when combined, a CEO is bound to see the undeniable value for the business and its people. While reducing liability is a positive outcome for an investigation program, those are just table stakes. It’s crucial to look deeper for results:

  • Engaging Employee Experience – Employees have an innate need to be safe and comfortable if they are going to perform. By ensuring this is the case, leaders can lay the foundation for great performance and innovation in the workplace. An investigation program that allows employees to raise issues and have them addressed quickly and impartially will give them that sense of peace, allowing them to focus on the real task at hand — getting the job done.
  • Positive Diversity and Inclusion Perception – Investigation programs can protect organizational diversity, but it’s also important to think about the perception of the D&I practice as well. Members of the organization must not only feel protected when an investigation is needed, but also on a daily basis. They must expect that individual preferences and freedoms are not going to be infringed upon, knowing that the organization “has their back” with a consistently-applied investigation practice. This allows employees to bring their best self to work every day.
  • Reinforcing Core Values and Norms – Consider the Deloitte study referenced above. Culture is the number one concern for these leaders, which is why it’s a powerful outcome for a good investigation practice. Companies that believe in honesty, fairness, and equal treatment as core values can use investigation tools to ensure that this remains a key element of the culture. Culture, at its core, is the shared behaviors and aspirations of a company’s workforce. If there are key behaviors the company wants to support, a good investigation program can help to find and eliminate any behaviors that are misaligned.

It’s not enough to just go through the motions. Mitigating risk is a valuable activity, but it doesn’t necessarily add value to the organization like these other activities can. Creating a good investigation program, one that your CEO values and appreciates, requires careful planning and alignment with business objectives and culture. The outcomes of such a program reach far beyond the HR function, helping to drive higher performance for the entire workforce.

Deb Muller
Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, employee relations case management and investigations software that combines documentation, process, and human expertise so organizations can meet the challenge of managing employee relations in the modern world.

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