Where to begin with employee write-ups
When the time comes to write an employee-write up, emotions are often high. Stay calm and follow company policy strictly. Mistakes made during this process, especially out of anger, may result in employee rebuttal. The following sections outline some of the most critical considerations when drafting employee write-ups:
- When to use a write-up form
- Write it when you’re calm
- Consider company policies
- Collect statements from witnesses
- Set expectations
When to use a write-up form
Write-up forms are designed to be the final action before termination. These come after one or more verbal warnings to provide additional feedback, outline the importance of remedying the issue and explain what comes next.
Write it when you’re calm
Working on a write-up document when you’re angry not only exacerbates the issue, but it also leaves room for error and general unprofessionalism. Write-ups are meant to be objective documents. Once you reach the write-up stage, you’ve already given the employee a verbal warning. Also, keep the content of your write-up clean and professional. Consider that write-ups go on employee records, allowing others to see them.
Consider company policies
You should have a solid reason for issuing a write-up. Use company policies to back up any claims you make, relating the issue to a specific policy. You may want to cite the exact policy as well for future reference. Explain thoroughly that you’ve given verbal warnings and feedback. Also, discuss that you walked the employee through proper conduct procedures. If your employee signed their employee handbook stating that they read and agree to all policies, reference that as well.
Collect statements from witnesses
In some cases, team members might see and report coworker behavior. In other cases, a specific employee’s behavior may involve multiple employees. When this occurs, gather statements from all parties, keeping them all on record whether you use them in your write-up or not. When collecting statements, consider those that are factual rather than subjective and include any mentions of other past warnings, such as from another supervisor.
After addressing performance issues within your write-up, the next step is to set expectations for improvement. Avoid praising areas they do well in as the write-up as they should never take the write-up lightly. Instead, keep a serious tone and focus on honest and corrective feedback. Relate your feedback toward the issue rather than the person, and include steps on how to improve. Be sure to outline what comes after the write-up along with any further actions such as termination. In most cases, the next step is termination and it’s best to make that explicitly clear.
Related: Onboarding Best Practices
A sample employee write-up form
The following is a sample employee write-up form:
Employee name: Victor Ivanov
Employee role: Analyst
Supervisor: Abena Masozi
Type of violation: Tardiness
Supervisor statement: After three verbal warnings spanning from September 12, 2019, to January 21, 2020, the decision has been made to write up the employee for repeated tardiness. Each recorded tardy was more than one hour late. According to company policy, Analyst personnel are full-time employees that must be in the office by 8:30 AM and remain until 5:00 PM. Mr. Ivanov signed his company policy handbook during his onboarding procedures, agreeing to the policy. We received and documented his signed policy handbook on July 15, 2019.
Expectations: From now until the set deadline, Mr. Ivanov must show perfect attendance. He will arrive at his desk no later than 8:30 AM each day and not leave until 5:00 PM. Only proof of medical visits such as doctor notes or other documentation excuse him from work. Failure to comply with these expectations will result in immediate termination of employment.
Employee signature: Victor Ivanov
Supervisor signature: Abena Masozi
Related: How to Manage Employees
Employee write-up frequently asked questions
The following list outlines some of the most frequently asked questions regarding employee write-ups:
- Are there any additional ways to avoid legal action?
- Should write-ups include other information regarding the employee?
- Should swifter action be taken with problem employees?
- Is it possible to communicate dissatisfaction before an issue escalates to a write-up?
Are there any additional ways to avoid legal action?
Legal action from employees is often a common result of write-ups. Most companies easily avoid these consequences by staying consistent, providing specific details, writing factually, avoiding emotional content and getting the employee to sign the write-up.
Should write-ups include other information regarding the employee?
If there have been any other documented issues, include them within the write-up in a brief summary. Keep the focus of the write-up on the most current issue.
Should swifter action be taken with problem employees?
It may seem that corrective action must be harsher and swifter with repeated offenders, however, as stated before, remain consistent. Regardless of the extent of the action taken by an employee, never give them unique disciplinary action. They might have a case against you if you treat them differently.
Is it possible to communicate dissatisfaction before an issue escalates to a write-up?
Organizations often have their own standards or policies for treating certain problems. If you create an internal atmosphere that promotes communication, it’s very easy to settle problems before they escalate to such an extent. Even before verbal warnings occur, talk to your employee. Be empathetic and genuinely try to understand their situation. If they have no excuse for their behavior, inform them that verbal and written warnings are the next step.