Most workplaces operate in harmony most of the time. However, when they don't, an employer should have steps in place to get things back on track as quickly as possible. Behavior issues and grievances can affect your business' bottom line due to loss of productivity and financial costs associated with employee replacement. In addition, your business may be required to pay increased premium costs for insurance plans. Whether it is violation of your driving policy or poor performance, the result can be costly.
Managing workplace issues begins before your new hire starts. It is important to know and share your business culture, write clear and concise job ads, screen applicants adequately, share a detailed position description with the new employee, and set clear expectations from the screening and selection process to the time of hire and throughout the employee's tenure.
Even after selecting and hiring the best candidate for your company and the job, issues and grievances will arise, mostly due to policy violations. A well-written employee handbook can be a valuable resource for both the employee and the employer. It will help guide and inform the employee on the company's mission, values, policies, procedures, and benefits, as well as outline the consequences of violation and how issues will be handled. Further, it helps protect the employer against claims of unfair treatment.
Reasons for disciplinary actions stem from common violations of workplace policies and rules, poor performance, abuse of time, and serious misconduct. The level of discipline depends on the type of violation. You may place an employee on a performance improvement plan (PIP) for poor performance or issue a verbal warning for tardiness, however, gross misconduct may require immediate termination depending on your policy.
The following are nine discipline practices to consider:
- Set an example by displaying appropriate behavior.
- Address issues as soon as they arise.
- Conduct thorough investigations with care.
- Refer to your employee handbook on the particular issue being addressed
- Communicate consistently when you see a problem with behavior or performance.
- Communicate, whether verbally or in writing, with the intention of looking for corrective actions to help the employee improve.
- Warn or terminate employees correctly, administering the proper level of discipline for the type of offense and documenting the process (tracking the process often saves employers, if challenged by EEOC).
- Consider final warning and putting employees on Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). If managed correctly and the employee is truly appreciative of the opportunity to remain employed, the plan can work.
- Treat employees fairly and maintain respect for supervisor and management. Make sure you involve legal counsel, if it becomes necessary.
Your HR manager is a great source of support at these critical times. Be prompt, fair, consistent, and try to resolve disputes rather than pursue litigation.