As an employer or manager, one of the most challenging tasks you may face is dealing with employee performance issues. While you may want to give your employees the benefit of the doubt and hope that they will improve, there may come a time when you need to take more formal action to address their behavior or performance. This is where writing up an employee comes in.
While the idea of writing up an employee may sound harsh or punitive, it's actually a necessary step in maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Documenting performance issues can help protect your company from legal issues, ensure that employees are held accountable for their actions, and provide a clear record of the steps taken to address the problem.
Whether you're a new manager or have been managing employees for years, this post will provide valuable insights and tips for handling difficult situations in the workplace. By understanding the importance of writing up an employee and following best practices for doing so, you can help your team thrive, and your company succeed.
Before we dive into the details of how to write up an employee, let's start with a quick definition. An employee write-up, also known as a disciplinary action form, is a written record of an employee's behavior or performance issue. It serves as a formal notice to the employee that their actions or conduct are unacceptable and must be corrected.
Employee write-ups typically include information such as the date of the incident, a description of the problem, the expected behavior or performance, and the consequences if the issue is not resolved. By documenting the issue in writing, the employer can ensure that everyone involved has a clear understanding of the situation, and can take appropriate action if necessary.
It's important to note that an employee write-up should be part of a larger disciplinary process that includes verbal warnings, coaching, and progressive discipline. It should not be the first step taken when addressing a performance issue, but rather a last resort when other attempts to correct the behavior have failed.
When it comes to writing up an employee, it's essential to include all of the facts surrounding the issue in question. This includes documenting the date and time of the incident, any witnesses who were present, and a clear description of the behavior or performance problem.
By including all of the facts in the write-up form, you can create a clear and consistent record of the situation. This is important because it can help protect the employer if legal action is taken, and can also help ensure that the employee understands why the write-up is necessary.
It's also important to be specific when describing the behavior or performance problem. For example, instead of saying "the employee was disrespectful," provide specific examples of the behavior that was observed, such as "the employee raised their voice and interrupted a colleague during a team meeting."
Including specific details in the write-up form can also help the employee understand what behavior or performance is expected of them going forward. For example, if the write-up includes a description of the expected behavior, such as "the employee is expected to communicate respectfully with colleagues at all times," the employee will have a clear understanding of what they need to do to correct the problem.
In addition to documenting the facts, it's important to communicate clearly with the employee about the write-up. This includes discussing the issue in person and allowing the employee to respond to the allegations. It's also important to make sure the employee understands the consequences of not improving their behavior or performance.
In summary, writing down all of the facts of a write-up and including it on the write-up form is important for several reasons. It can protect the employer in legal situations, help ensure the employee understands why the write-up is necessary, provide specific examples of the expected behavior, and communicate the consequences of not improving. By following these best practices, employers can create a fair and consistent disciplinary process that benefits everyone involved.
When writing up an employee, it's important to reference any relevant policies or procedures that the employee has violated. This helps to establish the seriousness of the behavior or performance issue and ensures that the employee understands that their actions are not in line with the expectations of the company.
Referencing policies and procedures can also help to ensure that the disciplinary process is consistent and fair. If all employees are held to the same standards and expectations, it creates a level playing field and reduces the risk of claims of unfair treatment.
In addition to referencing policies and procedures, it's important to make sure that the employee is aware of them. This can be done through regular training sessions or by providing employees with copies of the relevant policies and procedures. When an employee signs their write-up form, they should also acknowledge that they have read and understand the policies and procedures related to the behavior or performance issue in question.
By referencing policies and procedures in the write-up form, employers can also protect themselves in legal situations. If an employee claims that they were not aware of the company's expectations or policies, the write-up form can serve as evidence that they were informed and given an opportunity to correct their behavior.
In conclusion, referencing policies and procedures in the write-up form is an important part of the disciplinary process. It helps to establish the seriousness of the behavior or performance issue, ensures that the disciplinary process is consistent and fair, and can protect the employer in legal situations. By following these best practices, employers can create a positive work environment that benefits everyone involved.
Let's say that an employee has been consistently late for work over the past few weeks. As a manager, you've already had a conversation with the employee about their attendance, but the behavior has not improved. At this point, it's necessary to write up the employee for their tardiness.
When writing up the employee, you would want to reference any relevant policies or procedures related to attendance. For example, if the company has a policy that states employees must be at their desk and ready to work at the start of their shift, you would want to reference that policy in the write-up form.
"On [date], the employee was [x minutes/hours] late for their scheduled shift without prior approval or notification. This behavior is in violation of the company's attendance policy, which states that employees are expected to be at their desk and ready to work at the start of their shift. The employee was previously reminded of this policy on [date], but their attendance has not improved."
By referencing the attendance policy in the write-up form, you've established that the behavior is not acceptable and that the employee was aware of the policy. This helps to create a fair and consistent disciplinary process and can protect the employer in legal situations.
In addition to referencing the policy, you would also want to include specific details about the employee's tardiness, such as the dates and times that they were late. You should also include a clear statement of the expected behavior going forward and the consequences if the behavior does not improve.
When an investigation is conducted, it's important to document all of the steps taken, including the interviews conducted with witnesses and the employee, and any physical evidence that was collected. This documentation can then be used to support the findings of the investigation and to provide evidence in the event of a legal dispute.
Documenting investigations also ensures that the disciplinary process is consistent and fair. By following the same investigation process for all employees, the employer can demonstrate that they have treated everyone equally, which can help to reduce the risk of claims of unfair treatment.
In addition to documenting investigations, it's important to keep detailed records of all write-ups issued to employees. This includes documenting the date of the write-up, the behavior or performance issue in question, the steps taken to address the issue, and the consequences if the behavior or performance does not improve.
Keeping detailed records of write-ups and investigations not only provides a means to support the findings of the disciplinary process, but it also allows for the monitoring of patterns or trends in employee behavior or performance.
This can help identify potential issues before they become major problems and can help to improve the overall productivity and morale of the workplace.
Overall, documentation of investigations is a vital part of the disciplinary process when it comes to employee write-ups. It provides a means to determine the facts of a situation, ensures that the disciplinary process is consistent and fair, and allows for the monitoring of patterns or trends in employee behavior or performance. By following these best practices, employers can create a positive work environment that benefits everyone involved.
Providing feedback along an action plan for fixing the behavior or performance issue is essential. This helps the employee understand what they need to do to improve and can also prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
Feedback should be constructive and specific, focusing on the behavior or performance issue in question. It should be delivered in a clear and respectful manner, with a focus on the facts of the situation. Avoiding generalizations and judgmental language can help to keep the conversation productive and focused on the issue at hand.
After the write-up, you could work with the employee to develop an action plan for addressing the behavior. Here's an example:
Remember that every employee and situation is unique, so it's important to tailor the action plan to the specific needs of the employee and the organization. The key is to be clear, specific, and supportive throughout the process to help the employee improve and prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
Here's an example of how a manager might provide feedback and an action plan for fixing behavior after an employee has been written up for being consistently absent without notice:
Example of Feedback:
"Hi [employee name], I want to talk to you about your attendance. You've been absent without notice several times over the past few weeks, and it's impacting your work and the team's productivity. We need you to be reliable and to communicate with us when you can't make it to work. I'm concerned that this behavior may lead to further disciplinary action if it continues."
Example of Action Plan:
"Moving forward, here's what we're going to do. First, we'll schedule a meeting to discuss any underlying issues that may be contributing to your absences. This could include issues with transportation, childcare, or other personal or health-related issues. We want to work with you to address any challenges that may be impacting your attendance.
Next, we'll establish a plan for improving your attendance. This will likely include setting specific goals for being present and on time, as well as creating a communication plan for when you can't make it to work. We'll also provide you with any necessary training or resources that may help, such as time management or stress management workshops.
We'll monitor your progress and provide regular check-ins to see how you're doing. This will help us track your attendance and provide feedback along the way. If you continue to have issues with attendance, we'll have to consider further disciplinary action, up to and including termination."
This approach emphasizes the importance of clear communication and accountability, while also providing support and resources for the employee to improve their behavior. By setting specific goals and monitoring progress, the manager can help the employee get back on track and prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
Consider using AllVoices as a good way to document workplace investigations that will help you keep track of employee wrongdoings and address any concerns.