Whether you have one employee or several thousand, any disciplinary actions must be clear and consistent. So before determining whether or not an employee should be written up, please answer the following questions:
- Did the employee’s conduct violate an established policy?
Ensure your policies are updated regularly, and employees are trained about them at least once a year. In addition, they should review and sign that they understand the procedures.
- Is this policy known to all employees?
It should be handled during the onboarding process and once a year training or when the policy changes.
- Have others who violated this policy received similar disciplinary treatment?
If you work for a large organization, contacting your HR team will clarify whether you are being fair and reasonable to said employee.
- Have you implemented a progressive discipline policy? This is where the employee receives a:
- Verbal warning (documented with date and time in their record)
- Written notice (with a timed improvement plan)
- Final written warning
- Suspension or Probation
- Was the employee told about these steps along the way?
- Were all of the incidents (witnesses, dates, time, and location) thoroughly investigated to ensure the discipline was deserved?
- Were performance expectations made clear in the job description and during regular performance appraisals?
Once you answer these questions, you can move forward with progressive discipline – which is now the most accepted way of handling employee discipline. Here are the things to DO when setting this up within your company.
DO provide clear expectations to each employee about the company’s expectations. For example, if everyone must be at their desk to start work at 8:30 am, make sure employees know that 8:35 is unacceptable.
DO be consistent about following the procedures. For example, don’t be lenient to the CEO’s brother and fire an entry-level person for the same offense. If you are inconsistent, you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit.
DO be fair.
DO give yourself time to investigate if multiple employees are involved or the situation is complicated.
What about non-job traits that negatively pull your department or team down, such as gossiping, complaining, or disrespecting others?
If you heard it, it is a time for progressive discipline by giving the person or persons a verbal warning that type of behavior is not acceptable at your company and then documenting what was said and placing it in their employee folder.
However, if you did not hear it, yet it was reported to you by one or more individuals, you must do a fair and complete investigation into the matter before assuming what was said is true. If verified, you must discipline such employees, or their behavior could lead to workplace bullying.
We Can Help You Establish Sound HR Documentation Procedures
According to several research surveys, 20% of all US-based companies have experienced employment-related lawsuits in the last five years. That percentage is expected to increase steadily in the next few years. Judgments against companies in these actions averaged over $326,000 per incident, which could put a small to medium-size business out of business.
That is why you need us. SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. can mitigate your risk with sound HR policies and procedures to improve workplace culture, help prevent disagreements, and ensure everyone is treated equally.