Workplace Investigation Evidence analysis failure

Workplace Investigation evidence analysis failure – Once the evidence gathering is complete the next part of the process is to analyse the evidence and make findings.

Evidence includes:

  • Interviews and statements (audio/video recorded or written)
  • Interview notes
  • Documents including emails, file notes, written responses and additional information
  • CCTV or audio recording
  • Other evidence such as text messages, photographs and diagrams
  • Reports including incident reports, medical reports and any other reports.

“Evidence is information that is relevant to proving or disproving a disputed fact in issue in legal proceedings.”

The analysis of the evidence must be done before writing the report. As with any part of the investigation process, it is vitally important to remember that workplace investigations into any form of misconduct or  behavioural issues such as bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination that it is critical for the investigator to  ‘get it right the first time every time’

I provide full details of my evidence analysis process in my workplace investigation training programs where participants work through an investigation scenario from the receipt of the complaint to the final report including the analysis of the evidence.
Conducting Workplace Investigations – Full course
Conducting Workplace Investigations – Open Course

This is part of a series of articles in which I detail common failures I see in workplace investigations – The articles are here
Workplace Investigation Failure
Workplace Investigations Interview Failure
Workplace Investigation complaint analysis failure

Here are some of reasons for Workplace Investigation Evidence Analysis failure.

1.  Failure to understand the rules of evidence

While technically this part of the gathering component and generally I am speaking about interviewing, failure to realise that you have not adhered to the rule of evidence such as relying on hearsay or inadmissible or objectionable questions during interviews will undermine your findings, such error should be detected and potentially rectified during the analysis of the evidence.

A thorough and professional analysis of the evidence is a vital towards ensuring investigation success.

2. Failure to consider ALL of the evidence

You must consider and analyse ALL of the evidence from:

  • The complainant
  • Witnesses
  • The respondent
  • Other evidence including CCTV or audio recording, documents, emails, file notes, statements

You must not cherry pick the evidence that suits you or any predetermined outcome you may have in mind.

3. Making up your mind too early

At times during an investigation the evidence as you are gathering it may point to an outcome, however when you have gathered all the evidence it is time to put any predetermined outcome you may have to one side and analyse the evidence with an open mind.

4. Ignoring evidence that does not support your theory or belief

You must analysis all of the evidence in the same way that you musty gather all of the evidence that supports your allegation and that which does not.

5. Not carefully determining what evidence supports the allegation and who is it from?

It is important that you are clear in your mind about what evidence you have to support the allegations (if that is the case) as your report will rely on your being able to articulate your findings, based on the evidence in your report.

The final report is no place for guess work or feelings, your findings must be based on the evidence.

6. Not approaching the analysis with an open mind

You must carefully consider what evidence does not support the allegation or supports the respondent’s version of events and who is from regardless of how you feel or what you believe

7.  Investigator Bias

Just like other parts of the investigation

You should approach every the analysis of the evidence with an open mind and never make any prejudgements as to;

  • The interviewee
  • The importance of the interviewee’s information
  • The outcome of the interview

Common examples of interviewer bias are;

  • Confirmation bias – only seeking out evidence or information that supports one position or idea
  • Halo effect – How your view of the person effects how you feel about his/her character
  • Self serving – Taking the path of least resistance
  • Stereotyping – Making an irrelevant judgment on the person

8.  Failure to recognise remaining gaps in the evidence

During the evidence analysis phase it is important to recognise any gaps in the evidence and follow up on any other avenues of investigation.  This could include reverting back to any of the parties to seek further evidence or to clarify what you have. It is important not to allow your ego to get in the way of admitting that you may not have gathered all of the evidence that you require.

9.  Not focusing on the facts and allowing personality to pay a role.

Like bias you must not let your personal feeling interfere with your analysis. Remember your evidence analysis lead directly to your final report.  Your final report is no place for bias and anything that you cannot prove by pointing to the evidence.

10.  Allowing irrelevant information to be considered

During your analysis of the evidence you must be able to sort out the information that does not assist in the “proving or disproving a disputed fact” from the evidence upon which you can rely to make your findings.

11. Succumbing to pressure to make a desired finding/ignoring evidence.

At times you may have have pressure from senior management or a client to come to a finding that suits their purpose.  It is important that your findings are based on the evidence, wherever the evidence might lead and that evidence is not ignored to suit the wishes of management or a client.

12. Failure to recognise evidence that does not appear to make sense or is illogical

Sometimes there may be confusion on the part of the complainant, witnesses or a respondent, it is important to recognise and address evidence that does not make sense or is contradictory or appears to be illogical.  A careful analysis will enable you to separate these issues. .

From information to evidence

Remember the complaint is information. It becomes evidence that is relevant to your report when it is gathered and analysed in a systematic and logical manner applying the rules of evidence and not allow irrelevant facts to cloud you judgement or influence your findings..

In your final report you must be able to support your findings with evidence if you are substantiating allegations. It is very important NOT to read into the complaint or make findings based on your personal views or opinions

As I said at the start if the evidence analysis is flawed you cannot hope to provide an effective final report.

AWPTI can provide workplace investigation training to ensure that you get it right the first time every time.

Courses include:

Conducting Workplace Investigations – Full course  – Highly recommended for organisations charged at a flat rate with no limit on attendees

Investigation sexual harassment 

Conducting Workplace Investigations- Basic courses

Conducting Workplace Investigation Open course This is is open an anyone, you do not have to be part of an organisation

More courses can be found at

All course except the open course can be provide live by request, which means at a time and date to suit your requirements and can be provide in person or remotely via Zoom or Teams

AWPTI can also provide full investigations services –

AWPTI – workplace investigation based in Sydney, conducting workplace investigations nationwide including Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, Western Australia, the ACT/Canberra, Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Workplace training national wide and internationally

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations