- A new study on employee relations teams shows a slight shift in the upward trend toward centralization to a mixed organizational model. The 2018 HR Acuity Employee Relations Benchmark Study also found that organizations are increasing their focus on employee relations. According to HR Acuity, the study represents 4.4 million employees.
- More than 90% of centralized employee relations teams deal with behavioral issues, policy violations and "investigations into alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation." Only 60% of teams said they work with cases involving Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges or leave management issues.
- Among the key findings in the study: 34% of respondents said employee relations teams report to the CHRO; 49% of employee relation professionals handling investigations have seven or more open cases at a time, and 30% among them have 26 open cases on average at a time. The heavy workloads respondents described involve multiple parties, interviews and volumes of documentation. The study results also found that using case management technology is still trending among both centralized and mixed employee relation teams.
A growing focus on employee relations shouldn't be surprising, given the number of lawsuits arising from discrimination, sexual misconduct, retaliation, fraud and other allegations. Every organization should lower its risk for liability by promptly responding to employees' complaints and considering following up with an investigation. And although some cases are better left to lawyers, employment experts have said HR should feel free to conduct its own investigations. Prompt action can prevent small issues from becoming costly, time-consuming court matters.
Workplace investigations should aim to find the truth of a matter, and that can be difficult, even for trained investigators, Michael Wade Johnson, CEO of Clear Law Institute, said at the annual Society of Human Resource Management conference in June. Johnson emphasized the importance of conducting thorough interviews when conducting investigations with employees. "I want them to talk as much as possible to get them to commit to as many details as possible," Johnson said. He also recommended asking follow up questions to ensure interviewees can provide details of their account.