Employees don’t always behave the way we hope they will in the workplace. People make mistakes and those mistakes sometimes lead to significant consequences. As a business leader, you have to be the one to enforce those consequences. Creating a disciplinary action policy can help you have a set process in place so disciplinary action can be carried out fairly and effectively to help employees get back on track. Here’s how to create your own disciplinary action policy:

Have a Purpose

The first step you need to take is to set a clear purpose for your disciplinary action policy. In every case the goal of the disciplinary action policy should be to help employees understand expectations, correct problem behaviors, and get back on track.

Be Thorough

Since your employees and managers will look to this policy for guidance, you should make sure it’s as thorough as possible. Having and then referencing written company policies, rules, and expectations makes sure employees know what is expected of them in the workplace. Disciplinary action policies are useless if no one knows what actions qualify for disciplinary action.  A common progressive discipline policy goes like this:

  • A verbal warning – Usually a quick spoken warning in the moment of the offense. This should be followed up with written documentation of the conversation. Some supervisors like to do this via email summarizing the verbal conversation.
  • A written warning – This happens after a repeated offense of the same type. A written warning will usually detail the poor behavior and steps needed to change the behavior. It should also outline when the supervisor will follow-up with the employee and how continued problem behaviors will be handled.
  • Final warning – This warning is sent after the employee’s behavior has not changed with previous warnings. It usually includes a date by which the behavior needs to change and a final consequence.
  • Probation/suspension – This temporary consequence may be used if the employee’s behavior doesn’t change after the final warning, or a serious offence occurs.
  • Termination – For serious offences or for employees who don’t improve behavior after probation/suspension termination may be the best option

Your discipline policy doesn’t need to match this exactly. However, you should have a written plan that is clear, specific, and includes processes for documenting employee behavior issues. This should be shared with employees and followed universally by supervisors so there is no confusion.

Look to the Professionals

You don’t need to make a discipline policy all on your own. An HR consultant or outsourced HR company, can help with drafting a discipline policy. They will know the employment laws surrounding disciplinary action and will help make your policy comprehensive. You can also consult with a lawyer to ensure your company won’t have legal consequences due to your policy. Do you have questions about your disciplinary action policy? Reach out to Helpside at service@helpside.com to talk to one of our HR experts.