Psychological safety in a post investigation workplace

Jennifer Porter
February 28, 2024

The practical reality is that after an investigation has concluded, employees who have participated in the investigation will usually have to continue to work together.  This may be particularly problematic if one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • the respondent has been stood down during the investigation
  • the investigation involves a complaint of inappropriate behaviours made by a complainant against one or more of their team members and/or the manager of the team
  • the complainant alleges as part of the complaint that the employer has failed to provide a psychologically safe workplace
  • members of the team were interviewed as witnesses in the investigation
  • the team have been talking amongst themselves about the complaint and have taken “sides.”

Sound familiar?  This can result in a stressful situation for the complainant (the person who made the complaint) the respondent (the person responding to the complaint) and the rest of the team, including the manager.

Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to provide a psychologically safe workplace.  This means you must conduct a risk assessment, consider the potential hazards and eliminate or minimise the risks as far as practicable.

Here are some tips on what you might consider doing, with a focus on the psychological safety of the team:


Investigation outcome Have you “closed out” the investigation by explaining the findings to the complainant and respondent?  Just sending them a letter, telling them that the investigation has concluded will do very little to help the parties understand and be in a position to move forward.  Think about when and where you will meet with them to have that conversation, and what support you have in place for them for after the conversation. Make sure you give them a letter with the findings as well.

Address the elephant in the room If there is chatter amongst the team, it may be appropriate for a conversation with the team to inform them that the investigation has concluded, asking for the team to be respectful and to not discuss it amongst themselves.  Consider how you might bring your team back to the values of the organisation and to focus on engaging in respectful behaviours to keep themselves and their colleagues psychologically safe. 


What is the post investigation support available?  Is it sufficient for the circumstances or do you need to offer more (for example, counselling or coaching, a course on building resilience or managing anger.) Ensure that someone is allocated responsibility for “checking in” with the parties periodically. Failing to allocate responsibility for that task may mean that it is “forgotten”.

Consider arranging for a more senior manager to check in with the manager of the team and to offer support and coaching, particularly in the manager of the team is inexperienced in managing this situation.

If the respondent has been stood down during the investigation, ensure that the appropriate support is in place for them to reintegrate into the team.  Ensure that the relationship between the complainant and the respondent is able to be restored to a functional degree so that they can work together.  Consider offering support to rebuild relationships such as mediation or a facilitated conversation.

Appropriate workplace behaviours

Be crystal clear that everyone in the team is expected to adhere to appropriate workplace behaviours; ensure knowledge of the relevant policies and procedures; ensure they understand their responsibilities for their own safety and the safety of their colleagues; and that they know how to raise a concern and the escalation process.  It may be appropriate to consider running a refresher workshop/course, particularly if it has been a while since the team participated in one and/or there are new starters in the team.

Ensure it is clear that treating each other with courtesy and respect means that they must not seek retribution in any form. 


Be clear that the leadership is committed to the success of the team and want them to  feel supported.

Consider engaging with the health and safety representative/ committee or the safety officer around building psychological safety within the team.

Address the underlying problems

Consider if there are any underlying problems leading to the workplace complaint that need to be addressed. What is the data telling you? (such a turnover, grievances raised, previous complaints, workers compensation claims, requests for transfer out of the team etc).  Consider if a Workplace Culture Review is necessary to gather more information about what is happening within the team.

If for example, the investigation finding was that bullying had occurred within the team, did the culture and leadership of the team create an environment that enabled that behaviour to occur? What is the organisations strategy on managing that psychological risk?


It is important to continue to monitor the team.  Consider relevant data; consider who you might need to check in with such as the team manager, the parties to the complaint, and the safety committee. What are the observable behaviours of the team, such as their interactions with each other during team meetings?

It is never easy to manage the post investigation workplace.  It is a balance between meeting your duty of care and allowing the team to put the investigation behind them and be future focused. Assess the risks and put in place controls to eliminate or minimise those risks. Most importantly, don’t do nothing and hope the team will sort it out themselves.  That will never meet the organisation’s duty to keep the team psychologically safe.

Here at Worklogic, we provide a 360 suite of services, which includes support post-investigation. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your workplace requirements.

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