Remember when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) conjured up images of disgruntled employees engaging in workplace violence? Those days of incidents, often sparked by employee discontent over unresolved labor grievances and employment-related complaints, are apparently over. The USPS has learned from the violent incidents of the 1980s and is now considered a go-to source for federal agencies seeking timely and well-executed internal investigations.
I was surprised to learn from Federal News Radio that the USPS now handles roughly 60 percent of all federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints through inter-agency agreements. How has it gone from a back log of 4,000 EEO cases to a trusted source for handling internal complaints? Simply put, the USPS has applied tried and true best practices for conducting internal investigations.
Here are a few best practices every employer can learn (or re-learn) from the USPS:
While internal investigators may offer cost-savings as well as institutional knowledge, external investigators often offer years of relevant expertise, unbiased objectivity, and (if outside counsel) may shield the investigation materials and findings from discovery. Agencies apparently see value in the USPS’s experienced staff of investigator “consultants” who offer a third party, objective approach to resolving EEO complaints.
For more best practices on conducting effective internal investigations, check out our article on the “Top Five Best Practices for Workplace Investigations.”