Investigating Bullying and Harassment – the need to develop an effective procedure.

The recent allegations that staff in the Prime Minister’s office are working in a fear culture have put the topic of bullying at work centre stage.  Never has it been more important that companies effectively investigate formal complaints of bullying and harassment in a robust and fair manner.

For the past 16 years, Jean Kelly Consultancy Ltd have been dealing with this contentious issue.    Their advice is that when formal complaints of Harassment and Bullying are submitted, it is vital that the company has a sound investigation procedure for investigators to follow. 

However, Jean Kelly writes, “From my experience, many organisations’ policies merely state that a formal complaint will be investigated fairly and within a certain timescale.  They give few details of the exact procedure that will be followed – leaving investigators unclear about how to begin and prepare for the investigation, the correct method to follow and how to advise complainants, witnesses and respondents as to what will happen during the process.  Clearly this is a dangerous path to take.  If investigators are uncertain and go off on a frolic of their own, the company has few safeguards in place to ensure the procedure is robust and fair.”

Jean adds, “One of the main grounds for appeal following an investigation is that the procedures have not been followed or fairly applied.  If a company does not have effective procedures in the first place, how can it protect itself from time-consuming and damaging appeals?”

For this reason, Jean Kelly Consultancy have developed a Checklist to help any organisation develop clear guidelines for investigators when faced with the onerous task of investigating a formal complaint of harassment, bullying, discrimination and/or victimisation.  Using the checklist, each company or organisation can answer the questions to suit their own work practices and to establish that the procedures are in line with their general grievance procedures. 

If you would like to develop an effective procedure when investigating formal complaints of bullying and harassment download a free copy of this Checklist from so that you can develop a proven procedure for the responsible task of conducting investigations.

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