An organization must carefully weigh how it handles an internal problem because the outcome could have long-ranging consequences. One study found that the average public relations crisis led to a 15% decrease in a company’s stock value over a year.
In many cases, the human resources department can handle internal investigations for a company. However, circumstances arise where such a review needs the unbiased assistance of an outside source.
Cases of perceived bias
Internal investigators may have had previous interactions with the parties or witnesses that could give the impression of bias. As such, others may call into question the fairness of any decision, even if the investigator is able to remain objective. In these cases, bringing in someone with no connection to the situation or parties can eliminate the appearance of prejudgment.
The involvement of a high-ranking team member
If the parties or witnesses to the incident rank higher than the investigator, using an outside investigator may be preferable. Investigators who are employees may struggle to question a superior because of the fear of retaliation.
If the case involves a member of human resources or the investigative team, outside assistance may be wise. Someone from the outside can thoroughly question high-level employees without fear of reprisal and offer unbiased recommendations.
Ongoing issues in the workplace
When similar complaints continually arise, an outside investigator may be a company’s ideal option for reaching a resolution. For instance, repeated complaints about inappropriate conduct or harassment might point to a systemic issue that would benefit an external perspective.
Using an outside investigator can preserve employee morale and a positive public perception when a negative situation arises. This step shows that an organization takes accusations of misconduct seriously and wants a fair and impartial result.