Does Your Company Have a Process for Disciplinary Action?

Sharon Boyd has nearly 25 years of experience between both the healthcare and marketing industries. In addition to being an RDH and content writing expert, she also holds a degree in business. Her responsibilities primarily include tackling the communication barriers between small business owners or healthcare providers and their prospective clientele.

Does Your Company Have a Process for Disciplinary Action?

As a small business owner, it’s probably the case that you don’t have an HR manager, much less a full Human Resources department. In many cases, small business owners manage hiring, training, offering insurance, and any other HR functions on their own. Frequently, owners and managers bring friends and family in to work with them. It’s possible that they never think about what will need to happen when job performance or misconduct may need to be addressed. But every business needs to have a policy for disciplinary action!

Create Clear Expectations

Employees thrive when they are in an environment where they know what to expect. Clear expectations of behavior and performance, both in the small things like timeliness, and in large things like conduct with clients and regulatory information, help keep people focused.

Your staff also needs to know what will happen if they don’t meet the requirements. A progressive discipline structure helps make the steps clear. For instance, if you have an employee who is regularly late, your first step is not dismissal.

  1. Sit down and counsel the employee; provide a verbal warning that his tardiness needs to stop.
  2. If he continues to be late, give a written warning in addition to a second verbal warning.
  3. When the behavior continues, a suspension may be in order, with a specific written warning of termination.
  4. Termination may be recommended.

A Clear Discipline Plan Protects You…

But only when you follow it. Once you create and instate your plan for disciplinary action, realize that it can protect you and your employees. When you follow the steps of your plan and document them, you have the case you need to dismiss a person who is getting in the way of a thriving business. When your staff knows and understands the disciplinary steps, they will feel more comfortable, and not at the mercy of the whim of a tyrant.

Make Sure You Know Your Legal Responsibilities

Laws regarding employee discipline vary from state to state, so have your attorney review your policies to ensure compliance with local ordinances. Be aware that working with members of labor unions can also create unique situations for your discipline plan. If you find yourself in the position where you need to remove a person from your employ, the last thing you need is to find out you can’t dismiss them, even with cause!

Discipline is More Than Negative Consequences

While you begin defining your plans for discipline, remember that there is more to creating a positive work culture. Also make plans to provide relevant training for your team. Make opportunities for team building and positive reinforcement. Create incentives for making and meeting goals. Remember to tell individuals when they have done a job well, and look for situations to provide coaching for improvement. With both a discipline and incentive plan in place, you’ll be able to move your team into the future.