Can technology help conduct disciplinary investigations? | Howells Solicitors

Can technology help conduct disciplinary investigations?

At some point, as an employer, you will have to investigate workplace issues – whether these are being dealt with informally or formally through disciplinary procedures. It is important that accurate evidence is obtained to support any decisions made in the process.

Traditionally, a manager would be appointed to investigate the identified issues, usually with support from the HR department. Once the allegations are known, the investigating manager would need to identify what evidence is available. Documentary evidence is one thing, but a lot of the time, if a conduct issue is being investigated the evidence is not written but verbal. It is people’s recollections of events.

This can make it difficult to be sure that the evidence obtained is completely accurate. The human memory is fallible and it can be easy for false memories to be created. There is also the issue where the allegations are of a more sensitive nature or where witnesses fear recrimination for speaking out.

Interestingly, developers have been working to create “chatbots” – this is a device that can be used to record evidence or accounts of work behaviour.

The employee would be able to have an anonymous online conversation with the “chatbot” which is programmed to respond to what is written and ask meaningful questions to follow up on what is written to explore the issues and enhance the information obtained.

The record of the conversation will be saved and can be emailed with the time of the conversation recorded. This can be shared with the employer if needed and utilised as accurate and high quality evidence in any workplace investigation.

Of course, an employer would need to promote the use of the “chatbot” to their employees – but by placing the emphasis on the confidentiality and anonymous nature of the service, this may well encourage more employees to record any concerning behaviour they witness and thus allow for better management of misconduct in the workplace.

It may be a while before the use of Chatbots really takes off in business, until that time, remember the importance of properly investigating any allegations of misconduct and be mindful to adopt appropriate questioning techniques to ensure the accuracy of any evidence you obtain. Howells employment team provide expert assistance with handling disciplinary matters, contact us now for a confidential discussion about your options on 0114 2496666.

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