RESTORING THE WORKPLACE
FOLLOWING A HARASSMENT
By Laura Williams
It’s a nightmare event for any organization: A manager or key
employee, such as a top salesperson, faces a lengthy investiga-tion
into allegations of sexual harassment or some other form
of serious workplace misconduct.
The investigation takes months and the manager is removed
from the office while the fact-gathering is underway. Employees
begin whispering about the incident, pre-judging the outcome
and questioning the strength of the organization’s culture. Senior
leaders – feeling constrained by confidentiality – are less than
forthcoming with information, further fueling the gossip. Morale,
productivity and engagement are seriously impacted, and a few
employees consider departing for competitors.
The investigation ultimately concludes that the allegations of
misconduct against the manager are not substantiated and the
manager is reinstated to her managerial responsibilities. Despite
being vindicated through the process, the manager’s direct reports
now openly question her authority, not to mention the credibility
of senior leadership, who expect that the case is closed and that it
should be back to business as usual.
They couldn’t be more mistaken.
Scenarios such as this one play out almost daily for organiza-tions
of all sizes and across industries. Many management teams
and HR professionals believe that when an investigation wraps,
their work is done when, in some respects, it’s only just beginning.
The reality is that workplace investigations can have a devastating
effect on organizational morale, negatively impacting everything
from employer brand – which impacts an organization’s abil-ity
to engage, attract and retain its employees – to bottom-line
That’s why it’s important to be proactive and develop a compre-hensive
workplace restoration strategy outlining the various tactics
needed to repair an organization’s damaged morale and opera-tional
effectiveness in the event of a disruptive workplace incident.
It starts by customizing a restoration plan that sets out exactly
how the organization will address and, potentially, rebuild culture
when a challenging scenario (such as the investigation described
above) occurs. Think of it as a crisis management roadmap that
includes important details from communications roles for key
managers and HR personnel to restorative activities (e.g. team
building measures) and even key performance expectations that
highwaystarz / 123RF
It may be necessary to reassign or even physically
relocate individuals to help curb gossip-mongering
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ CONFERENCE ISSUE 2019 ❚ 43