How and Why You Should Discipline an Employee

It is not unlikely that, as an employer, you would have to take corrective actions and/or discipline employees. Unpleasant as it can be it is very important to address any and all employee infractions at the time that they occur.

The important factor to take into consideration is that taking immediate action increases the likelihood that the employee’s behaviour will improve dramatically (thereby reducing the likelihood that it will happen again).

If an employee is not meeting expectations, it is the manager’s responsibility to apprise them of the situation. The best way to address this in the first instance is to hold a performance review, in which the manager should…

  • Clearly outline the performance expectations and provide feedback on the deficiencies that have been observed.
  • Specify the corrective actions expected to be taken by the employee.
  • Discuss and agree on simple & measurable solutions for change.
  • Set deadlines and consistently monitor/measure the results.

If the employee continues to be problematic after this review then a disciplinary must be considered. It’s important to ensure you have a clearly documented policy related to the issue or behaviour in question, but the most common forms of disciplinary action that can be applied to most situations are:

  • Written warning
  • Suspension without pay
  • Dismissal

It is absolutely crucial to your business to keep all reviews and disciplines properly documented as well as storing supporting documentation or notes. For example, if an employee is chronically late then you should gather their timesheets and any written communication over the matter – this is strong evidence that should protect the company if the employee became disgruntled and pursued litigation.

At the end of the day, you should remember that the employee can be a valuable asset to your business. It’s important to approach the situation with the willingness to solve the problem rather than let it slide or, on the other hand, take punishment too far.

If corrective action is taken at the right time and done in the right way, employees will usually appreciate the heads up and amend their behaviour. If this is the case, then be sure to let the employee know that you appreciate the change.


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