In a previous article we discussed the need for consistency in employee discipline, including what some feel is a serious consideration; setting precedence. When addressing an employee for a disciplinary action, it is important to be as consistent as possible, lest you are labeled as one showing favoritism to one over another.
Progressive discipline, when used properly, should include several steps for routine infractions, say, poor attendance, minor infractions of policy and so forth. They typically follow this path:
- Verbal Warning
- Written Warning
Supervisors involved with the disciplinary process must be trained to stress improvement, whether it is for behavioral or performance related issues. Immediate attention must be paid to improvement for the employee to remain a viable candidate of employment. Providing a timeline of improvement fails to stress the true nature of the discipline, and often provides loopholes from which employees may slip through.
Do Provide Progressive Discipline
- Do utilize the 4-step method stated above.
- Do document the verbal warning, as a matter of record.
- Do have the employee acknowledge receipt of the verbal warning.
- Do stress the immediate need for improvement.
- Do ensure that the employee improves, or move to the next step.
- Do perform written warnings, documenting the action and receipt of acknowledgement from the employee.
- Do suspend the employee if the infractions continue.
- Do document the suspension, the receipt of acknowledgement, and the course of action if the problem continues.
- Do terminate when all else fails. Not doing so will negate all your efforts of improving your business.
Don’ts involved in the Progressive Discipline Process
- Don’t play favorites. Doing so will erode your stature as a leader. Even your best employee will need some form of discipline in their tenure.
- Don’t fail to document every occurrence of either negative performance or behavior issues of any and all employees, including supervisors.
- Don’t forget to have your process and documentation reviewed by a competent attorney that specializes in HR.
- Don’t leave disciplinary documentation around. File it immediately, either electronically or manually.
- Don’t feel you need to follow all 4 steps if the infraction calls for the strongest of discipline. An employee should be terminated for fighting, serious misconduct like theft of property, etc.
- Don’t forget, you are the boss, and you have the ability and responsibility to manage your business, employees and their actions.
A progressive discipline process provides employees with a clear path of expectations and outcomes. It is in everyone’s best interest to adhere to this process with consistency.
How you handle your business is entirely up to you, but bear in mind, the laws are clear when it comes to at-will status. Just because you utilize a progressive discipline system, you still have the ability to cease utilizing employees that simply fail to follow directions, fail to adhere to policy or simply disregard the rules established. Seek the advice of an attorney should any serious infraction occurs before acting, however. It’s simply good business.