A report compiled by iHR Australia which analysed a sample of 70 investigation reports has provided insight into the causes and factors surrounding complaints being investigated, with manager behaviour and workplace culture near the top of the list.


One of the most significant findings in the report, Workplace Investigations: Causes and Cures was the impact of workplace culture, particularly in relation to the behaviour of managers in their leading of departments and teams. In 75% of the investigations, the respondent held a leadership position and workplace culture was directly cited as a contributing factor in 40% of complaints. While 74% of complaints in the investigations were not upheld or partially upheld, real or perceived, the complaints were felt. Whoever people are in the workforce, they are infectious.  Inherent in these findings is that the strongest influencers on workplace culture are the leaders and the extent of the gap between what they say and what they do can have a significant impact on their team.

When compiling a resume or CV of past employment, it is an interesting exercise to think back over the jobs or positions that were enjoyed the most and those that were enjoyed the least.  The jobs that were well-resourced, offered high compensation and rewards and promised career development opportunities theoretically should be on ‘top of the list’ for motivation to stay in an organisation. This, however, is not always the case.  The ‘top of the list’ jobs may in reality have been those that did not pay that well, with limited career prospects, and even more limited resources, but the time spent in the roles provided learning and achievement because the manager was indeed a leader.


Research suggests that workplace culture is driven by those who lead and manage it, and their consistency and strength in translating effective management policies into work practices. Management behaviour that reflects ‘consistency and strength’ includes:

  1. a willingness to communicate both positive and negative feedback in relation to work processes;
  2. initiative in seeking out ways that will increase both acceptance of changes to improve work processes and feedback when current or proposed processes are not working;
  3. the presence of supervision to avoid conflict and errors without encouraging rigidity and stifling initiative; and
  4. behaviour that lets people know it is alright to be wrong when errors are made and that something can be done about them.

Managers who promote mutual monitoring of performance without the counter-productive loss of confidence, autonomy and trust provide for a culture of learning and understanding, rather than blame and shame.  The former culture creates jobs that go to the top of the CV list in memory; the latter creates environments where people move on and put those jobs behind them as quickly as they can.

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