Workplace Investigation Final Report failure

Workplace Investigation final report failure – During an investigation when all the evidence has been gathered and analysed it is time to report your findings.

Workplace Investigation

The final report details the outcome of your investigation, it is the final product. 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 report writing process in my workplace investigation training programs where after participants work through an investigation scenario from the receipt and analysis of the complaint, planning the investigation and interviews, interviewing the parties and analysing of the evidence.
Conducting Workplace Investigations – Full course
Conducting Workplace Investigations – Open Course
Investigation Training

This article 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 Investigation complaint analysis failure
Workplace Investigations Interview Failure
Workplace Investigations Evidence Analysis Failure

Here are some of reasons that cause Workplace Investigation final report  failure.

  1. Failure to have a process when gathering and analysing the evidence

As discussed in the previous articles it is vitally important to get every part of the investigation process right.  If any part of your process is flawed you cannot hope to provide and effective final report.

  1. Failure to consider ALL of the evidence

Before you start and when drafting your final report 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.

  1. Failure of your executive summary

Your report should contain an executive summary.

Your clear executive summary should be written to provide a reader an overview of the complaint, the investigation and the findings.  It should have enough detail so that the reader is able to fully understanding what happened, who was involved and the outcome.

It is important to remember that the report may go to a senior manager who will no doubt want to be able to ‘get the facts’ in a concise manner.

  1. Not realising that the person reading the report may not have knowledge of the matter.

Your report that should be set out so as to allow a reader who has no knowledge of the matter or the parties to understand who was involved, what their roles are/where and how they are relevant to the investigation.

Your report should also clearly outline the circumstance of the complaints or incidents involved in the investigation.

You should not make assumptions.

  1. Not using clear plain language.

It is important that you should not try to be clever or attempt to show the reader how clever you are.  Unless it is necessary to use jargon for example in technical matters, use plain English.

I have seen reports where the writer has used ‘legal speak’ that it likely the reader may not understand.

  1. Investigator Bias

Just like other parts of the investigation you should approach your report 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

Workplace Investigation Bias

Common examples of bias incude 

  • 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
  1. Failure to recognise remaining gaps in the evidence

During the report writing phase it is important to recognise any gaps in the evidence and follow up on any other avenues of investigation.

This may involve pausing the investigation or 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.

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

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

  1. Not taking your time

A good final report takes time, how long? As long as it takes.  Don’t rush the report and risk making mistakes. Ensure that it is drafted carefully and proof read thoroughly.  I suggest having your reported edited by a fresh pair of eyes.

  1. Succumbing to pressure to proving the report too soon.

At times you may have pressure from senior management or a client to get the report to them ASAP.  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard “when we will get your report”.  Often I get those question before I even have the transcript back.

Just like point 9, don’t rush, you may have to manage expectations. The report should be provided when you are happy with the content and that your findings are sound based on the evidence and that you are willing to stand behind you report if it is challenged.

Final words

Remember your investigation report must logical and make sense.  It must lead you to make definitive statements of findings based on the evidence.

Workplace Investigation final report failure

In your final report you must be able to support your findings with evidence if you are substantiating allegations or not. It is very important NOT to allow findings to be made based on your personal views or opinions

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 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