Bullying investigations, bullying in the workplace, sexual harassment

© HR & DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT LIMITED 2004

Investigations, Bullying in the workplace, sexual harassment

WORKPLACE INVESTIGATIONS

HR & Diversity Management Helpline : 01793 338888

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"I just wanted to thank you for the two pieces of work that you carried out for me as head of this department.

As a line manager it is difficult to deal with people who have borderline performance, make notes about everything that happens to them and are disruptive behind the scenes. They take a long time to come to the top of the list and when they do the situation is complex. Of course it is always better to prevent such situations progressing but I suspect that most managers with a large number of staff and years experience will recognise the scenario.

I now recognise what a fantastic resource your company provides when such matters occur. In both cases, which had different outcomes, your approach was to work and focus towards a satisfactory outcome rather than producing a report of what was happening and walking away."

Director, NHS Trust, July 2007.

The NHS situation

According to the National NHS staff survey 2008, the organisation needs much support in areas of Diversity, Bullying in the workplace, Harassment and Abuse. Staff are apparently being bullied by both 'their line managers and other colleagues'.

This is not an isolated incident but pervades the NHS nationwide. Further the number of staff being treated this way is 'similar to previous years'. This means that current resolution methodologies are not gaining on the problem.

From the experience of HR & DM the majority of the problem lies with line management. Managers seem not to know how to deal with issues in the workplace. This stems from not looking at root causes of disputes and then the need for them to be addressed as quickly as possible to 'nip them in the bud'. Of course it is not easy, but there are methodologies to enable a line manager to both recognise the symptoms and then apply a resolution.

In doing this good managers can :

  • Keep a harmonious team spirit to operations
  • Minimise downtime and the impact to patient care
  • Reduce or even eliminate cost to their Trust and thus the NHS

HR & DM has investigated many situations in the NHS, as typified by the quote at the head of this page. However, it seems that, for whatever reason, line management training in Diversity and Bullying in the workplace is either not recommended or not available within the NHS. This is a pity as much good could be achieved with comparatively little cost.

Please call us to discuss ways in which we could help - 01793 338888

 

Workplace Investigations from HR & Diversity Management

As a crucial part of the service we provide from HR & Diversity Management (HR&DM), Investigations into workplace bullying, sexual harassment and harassment in workplace are the most significant. Both employees and employers see benefit from a third party bullying in the workplace investigation.

Trade Unions, line management and Company Solicitors see third party bullying investigations positively, since in-house investigations have a bias which is very difficult to overcome. A third party investigation is impartial and independent.

HR&DM bullying and harassment investigations are based on a tried and tested model (a formula which is the copyright of HR&DM). We have been investigating issues of this nature - and advising management on issues of this nature, for over a decade. We always seek to determine the cause of Bullying or Harassment and to establish whether allegations are founded and to look at 'the bigger picture' - ie: the culture, performance, turnover of staff, patterns, procedures etc. If it is a definite case of one person who is an out and out workplace bully, so be it. The bully may need a level of training to establish whether or not the situation is in any way recoverable. If the bully is not receptive to change or if he/she does not acknowledge their position, formal action may be necessary. To ignore such an attitude and/or conduct is non-productive - particularly in an ever-changing world of employment legislation.

Often, an investigation will uncover working practices which have crept into the workplace, but which are unacceptable.

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Internal Investigations - Carry out your own with our support

Especially in the Public Sector we are seeing organisations that wish to carry out their own internal investigations, but find that complainants are rejecting findings on the grounds of bias:'Well they would find in favour of their employer wouldn't they?'

HR&DM understands this and is now proposing to support organisations through internal investigations. This will mean that in future, organisations will be able to cut the costs of a full outsourced investigation but still see the benefits of an unbiased finding.

For each organisation that wishes to take part HR&DM will:

1. Provide a 1 day training course on how to carry out a full investigation using the copyrighted '20 step Investigation & Dispute Resolution Model - IDRM'. The course will be delivered by an HR&DM experienced investigator.

2. Delegates will also be given a copy of the 20 step IDRM.

3. During each investigation HR&DM staff will be available to give full operational support, or telephone support as required.

4. When the investigation has been concluded, an HR&DM investigator will audit the findings to ensure that there is no bias and that the investigation has followed the '20 step IDRM'.

This step is vitally important to ensure that the complainant becomes fully aware that there has been no bias in the findings and that all recommendations can be fully justified.

If this is of interest please call David Pratt on 01793 338888

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Further, training of managers and other policies can be introduced which will enable managers to quickly stamp on bullying or harassment at the first signs. This is especially important in cases of sexual harassment and promotes a happy and productive workplace.

As a rule the investigation is opened to anyone in the company/workplace to contribute, including the alleged Bully. However, so that anyone can contribute, interviews can remain confidential. (Case Law: ASDA v others). This means that an interviewee can speak freely and openly without fear of reprisals and the evidence they give, which should be factual (not hearsay), is protected. This methodology is also the best way of providing precise details of the dispute, to enable resolution. It also enable the employers to reasonably expect that workplace harmony has been re-introduced.

It is our intention to help resolve a Workplace Dispute, be it Bullying, Harassment or Discrimination, of any kind, without litigation and resolution through an Employment Tribunal. This can only be achieved if we are totally impartial and we steer well clear of emotional ties and base our findings on corroborated facts. Further, we do not prejudge the outcome of our Investigation.

During 2006 25% of cases found that the instigator, the alleged victim, was in fact, the bully. Line management had followed procedures.

Cases tend only to go to Tribunal where both sides fail to co-operate in the investigation.

 

TRAINING INVESTIGATION & MEDIATION - TIM

(In deference to the work done by Tim Field in this area)

 

Training

During our Investigation and Consultancy work we have seen that Management attitudes and more importantly basic training have been significant influences on the occurence of Bullying in the Workplace and its lack of resolution. We advocate and train managers to think through both the ethos of their team and the liklihood of bullying occuring in the first place, but also the simplicity of a 'nip in the bud' solution.

By training managers in how to look for basic signs of a potential dispute, and then how to step in to prevent escalation, can save time, money and inevitably litigation.

Please call us for details of our Diversity Training for Line Managers Courses.

Investigation : 20 Step IDRM
At HR&DM we have designed a model which ascertains, very early on, whether an employee grievance is vexatious or not. This model also assists employers with their line of defence as it identifies where policies need reviewing and where training or diversity initiatives are required to ensure problems do not occur again. There simply is no recommended guideline, or accredited process, for conducting workplace investigations in workplace. This formula, which we call ‘The 20-Step Investigation & Dispute Resolution Model’ (20-Step IDRM) is years ahead of its time. We have been providing an independent investigation service to employers, primarily in the public sector, for several years now and apply this process. We were the first organisation in the UK to offer this service. Our model has been successfully applied, in industry and three Employment Tribunal Chairmen have complimented us on it’s structure and practical application. The 20-Step IDRM looks at management style, policies, statistics in terms of turnover and absence, performance patterns, trends and many other aspects which ‘paint a picture’ in terms of the culture of the working environment where the issues are raised.

This model is the intellectual property of HR & Diversity Management Limited and has been copyright protected.

Call us on 01793 338888 for further information, or email us on admin@hrdiversity.co.uk if you would like support with dispute resolution issues.

Mediation
Employment Tribunal hearings increased by 25% in 2006 ! This was not the Governments objective when they introduced the 3-Step Dispute Resolution process under The Employment Act 2002; Dispute Resolution Reforms 2004. If this figure concerns you and/or if you need assistance with work related conflict issues, we urge you to consider the benefit of our TIM products, TRaining, Investigations and Mediation. BERR recommends this approach in the Michael Gibbons Review dated March 2007, and it has subsequently been incorporated in the Employment Act 2008. We provide such services ; completely impartial, independent, and professional. We can help you reach an amicable resolution and save you unnecessary legal costs. Four of our advisers are Chartered Fellows of the CIPD.

Organisations we have advised

Virgin Mobile

Nationwide

Swindon Borough Council

Swindon Services

The Fire Service College

CEMEX Plc

Laura Ashley

Women's Aid

The Prison Service

NHS Mental Health, SW1

Nottingham Play Forum

Central Swindon Medical Centre

Oxford Brookes University

Convergys Europe

APEX

Cadbury's

Laden Pre-School

Merton Timber, Wales

Barnett, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust

Tesco

Somerfield

Cricklade Town Council

ASDA

Once Upon A Time Day Nursery

Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority

Motorola

Energis

Danesfield House Hotel and Spa

Granville Technology

Zurich Finance

W H Smith

Rowan Foods, Wrexham

Bruce Stephenson Limited

Hammersmith Primary Trust

Sara Shoemark Beauty Salon

NHS Oxford

OXFAM

YMCA

Three County Police Constabularies

Two Area Health Authorities

.........numerous private organisations

 

Processes

We always enter into a Confidentiality Agreement with the Client organisation and where applicable with the complainant also. The model HR&DM follow is the intellectual property of the Company.

We observe Data Protection Laws and after 3 years we would endeavour to return all Company files and documentation to both the Client and the complainant as relevant.

An Investigation into workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination can take from 3 weeks to 3 months and is justified in terms of the cost of litigation and damage to the organisation if a contentious situation is not resolved amicably.

Witnesses are interviewed and statements collated observing Right to Be Accompanied laws and statutory rights.

If the alleged victim is stressed, or off work, she/he is asked to sign a Medical Waiver to show that they have consented to the investigation. (This is done even when they have instigated the investigation via the HR & Diversity Management Limited helpline).

Other Benefits

The Report will conclude with Recommendations to the CEO/MD. It will refer to statutory laws and will, invariably, quote case law and cite examples.

It will refer to internal procedures and state whether management has followed procedures.

The Report will make recommendations in respect of Coaching, Training of Line Managers and initiatives to ensure things do not go wrong in the future.

We can also offer an alternative to dismissal in some cases where a senior Manager/Director has transgressed policies and/or procedures.

Trade Unions will welcome the fact that an independent firm has investigated matters, and employees will not be able to say that management has influenced the investigation.

The Solicitor will be able to use the Report if the case is referred to a Tribunal.

Track Record

Although we have signed Confidentiality Agreements with all our clients, should an organisation need to talk to an organisation for whom we have carried out a project, we are prepared to ask clients to talk to serious potential clients to confirm our provenance.

Where Confidentiality Agreements are signed, details are not disclosed to a third-party.

Take the Initiative

Finally, you do not have to be in a contentious situation to take the initiative and call us in for support. We can ensure suitable Policies and Procedures are in place. We can train your staff to understand the contributions they can make towards a safe and productive workplace and we can ensure that you are legally protected with a very strong defence should a case arise that is not easily resolved.

For further support on Training, Investigations and Mediation, please call us on 01793 338888.

 

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