Workplace Investigations are a reliable source of insights into the employee experience. Albeit a reactive source, there are key data points to be gleaned from workplace investigations. One of the more prevalent insights I’ve gleaned in recent investigations I’ve conducted is flawed (or an overall failure in) leadership accountability. For example, if employees are not confident that their concerns will be addressed, then leaders are most likely missing the mark in owning their responsibilities to care for their employees. What I’ve found through workplace investigations is that employees generally sense this lack of care when leaders are not managing the workplace centered in trust.
In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Begin with Trust”, the authors cite 3 core drivers of trust, also referenced as “the trust triangle”: authenticity, logic and empathy. The authors further state that it is generally a failure in one of these core drivers that create a lack of trust. Interestingly, the conclusion (and recommendations) typically drawn in the workplace investigations I’ve recently conducted has been a training for leaders to develop empathy (there are similar recommendations made in my DEI data-driven audits where employees express a low sense of belonging in the workplace). As described in the HBR article, empathy, in simple terms, is the ability to show that one cares about the well-being and success of others. In my investigations work, that’s what the evidence has shown is at the root of the issue when it comes to the low confidence employees have about their concerns being addressed when raised – they don’t think their employers care.
From an employee experience perspective, not caring has adverse impacts on the workplace – low morale, declining productivity, high attrition, and toxic workplace cultures. Interestingly, toxic workplace cultures have been at the center of the more recent workplace investigations I’ve conducted. It’s been relatively easy to connect the dots between those toxic workplace cultures and a lack of empathy among leadership; and from there the road has generally led to a finding of low trust in the workplace that ultimately resulted in a leader’s (or leaders’) failure to be accountable. Thus, a call comes in to conduct a workplace investigation – like contract negotiations, workplace investigations are in my wheelhouse and becoming one of my burgeoning superpowers. J Gleaning key insights into the workplace experience is what excites me about workplace investigations; however, there are proactive strategies that would be much more effective at fostering a healthy workplace culture and creating positive employee experiences. Leading with empathy is a good starting point.