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Loose Lips: Office chatter can ruin an investigation

art1-5-16Among the most pronounced threats to an internal company investigation is workplace gossip. Disclosing details of an investigative project to the person under scrutiny can have a range of consequences—none of which are good.

In a matter handled by ResultQuest, the subject of a surveillance operation began implementing countermeasures such as making U-turns and pointless excursions. These actions led to the suspension of the operation after three fruitless days. It was soon discovered that this individual had been alerted to the investigation by a co-worker, who in turn had been told of the operation “in confidence” by a superior at a happy hour gathering.

Fortunately, word that the surveillance operation was cancelled was rerouted back to the subject through the leak; following a suitable pause in coverage, efforts were productively re-implemented. The company’s suspicions that the targeted employee was making visits to a competitor were confirmed. It was ultimately discovered that the employee had been supplying the competitor with trade secrets.

Despite the ultimate success of the investigation, the company wasted time and money because of the workplace gossip. In addition, there were lingering trust and morale issues due to the untimely disclosures – not to mention the additional damage caused by the forced delay.

It is essential that knowledge of any internal investigation must be shared strictly on a “need to know” basis with only those whose participation is critical to the investigation. Furthermore, it is important that safeguards be put in place to prevent disclosures, whether accidental or intentional.

The seasoned investigators at ResultQuest can help you quietly craft a workplace investigation with guidance and techniques that minimize the risk of improper exposure.   Call ResultQuest at (713)781-9040 to discuss any internal investigative needs.