Being an employer means you will have the occasional employee who requires disciplinary action or even termination. You can make that difficult situation a bit easier by preparing ahead of time, understanding how you will address the situation when it occurs.
Best Practices for an Employee Discipline and Termination Process
Outline Disciplinary Procedures in Your Employee Handbook
Having an employee handbook that clearly outlines how disciplinary issues will be handled sets expectations for all employees. And, taking the time to create your process up front will head off making rash decisions in the heat of an issue. However, you will want to build flexibility into your plan that will allow you to skip steps if necessary, such as the need for an immediate termination.
Address Employee Issues Promptly
It is important to understand the dynamic of your team, and to identify and deal with any issues quickly. Allowing dangerous, toxic or fraudulent behavior to persist not only decreases company moral, but can also make unwinding the employee from your organization more challenging.
Look Before You Leap
Before you fire someone in a moment of intense turmoil, ask yourself some key questions: How has the employee been disciplined? What documentation do you have? Has s/he been sick or have any disabilities? Does s/he have any special designations or demographics? And finally, what is the employee’s viewpoint of why you are firing him or her? It is this last question that can quickly identify potential negative outcomes from firing someone. Termination should always be clearly about job performance, not the qualities of the person being let go.
Formally Document the Process
Documenting communications and actions during disciplinary and termination procedures is key to protecting yourself against legal action. American employees are fortunate to have many employment laws to protect them from unfair or unsafe working conditions. However, those laws can cause headaches for employers who want to fire someone. Formally documenting all steps in your disciplinary process can protect you from losing a wrongful termination suit.
Enlist an Objective Party to Advise You
Bringing in an outside expert like WorkSmart Systems to offer an objective viewpoint to the situation can be invaluable in a discipline or termination situation. For example, our experts may be able to uncover potential major issues like employee discrimination. When you are close to a situation it can be difficult to see the potential pitfalls of your response, process or culture.
Prepare for Post Separation Communications
Once you have successfully terminated an employee, your relationship with them does not stop there. Items like final paychecks, benefit management and tax documentation still need to be managed. Again, having a PEO like WorkSmart on your side can be extremely helpful, serving as your representative to ensure all loose ends are covered.
Over time, hiring leads to an occasional firing. Working with a knowledgeable partner can help ensure proper implementation. You may have access to your trade association, employment lawyer or human resource professional who can often lend a hand. Did you know that Indiana-based PEO WorkSmart Systems also has the expertise to help? Advising clients on difficult employee issues is just one part of our full array of HR administration services. Send us an email or give us a call at 317-663-4138.