Of the many aspects of your business that you must oversee, employee discipline is one that must be addressed in keeping with general workplace policy and standards.
Your business is only successful to the extent that your employees understand and adhere to company policies and regulations. When there is a time am employee violates one of those policies or regulations, you will need to have a disciplinary system in place to take proper corrective measures. The goal is not to punish employees; it is to maintain a company culture of positivity and productivity. By addressing violations immediately and following up with discipline suited to the violation, the employee (barring termination) is informed that there is a structured way back to re-joining the company culture.
The following steps involve progressive disciplinary standards in the workplace:
This is one of the most common types of discipline and is the primary first step in the disciplinary series. In most businesses, it is the supervisor of the employee that will issue a verbal warning. Depending on how you have chosen to run your business, you may wish to discipline one of your middle managers, for example, or instruct a senior member of the team to do it. Verbal warnings are the first and, in most cases, the only step that will be necessary to motivate and encourage your employees to correct irregular behavior.
A Written Reprimand
You will issue this written reprimand when the employee continues to violate the workplace standard or policy. It is also known as a “write-up” and is often the second step, coming after the verbal warning as that step did not correct or improve the behavior.
This document will be a detailed written account of the violation or actions that need to change as well as the next steps should the behavior continue to remain unchanged, this is also known as a personnel action form. The employee will need to read and sign this document before placing it in their personnel file.
PIP – Performance Improvement Plans
These are effective forms of discipline where a detailed plan is created that identifies areas where improvement is needed and the steps necessary to satisfy an acceptable performance standard. These plans are often created when an employee’s performance falls short of or far below the minimum standard expected.
This plan will include actionable (and achievable) steps that can be measured as quantitative and qualitative milestones. Any bonuses or incentives etc. over and above are put on hold until it is shown that the employee has met the goals of the PIP.
A Written Suspension
Written suspensions are disciplinary forms used when verbal warnings, written reprimands, and PIP’s have failed. You will need to document the employee’s most recent behavior or actions. The corrective measures of the PIP will also need to be explained in the document as this is the support for taking the action of employee suspension. As an example, egregious behaviors or employee actions that lead to a threat to the health and safety of the employee, other employees, etc. in your workplace are typically valid reasons to suspend an employee. Note that this suspension leaves the employee without pay and hinders their ability to compete for promotions, preferred work assignments, etc. even after the employee has been reinstated.
After all other forms of discipline have been satisfactorily applied and exhausted, your final option will be termination. While this is a drastic step, you must maintain a positive and productive environment in your workplace, and this employee’s behavior does not contribute to that goal.
It is not unusual to skip the employee suspension and note in the written warning that the company may choose to terminate the employee if they continue to show behavior inconsistent with the expected outcome.
Most often, an employee termination doesn’t happen as the written warning will spur the employee on to improve or to seek employment elsewhere.