Employee write-up forms serve as essential tools for documenting an employee’s performance and addressing potential issues that may arise. These forms provide a structured approach to handling disciplinary matters, whether insubordination, poor attendance, unacceptable work performance, or other concerns.
Maintaining a written record of issues related to employee performance is important in establishing a solid foundation to support future decisions. Documenting these concerns ensures a transparent and accountable process, allowing you to refer back to specific incidents or patterns of behavior when required.
Utilizing write-up forms can effectively address performance concerns, maintain accurate documentation, and foster a fair and productive work environment.
When To Use Write-Up Forms – with Examples
Knowing when to utilize a form to write up an employee is vital for effective employee management. These forms serve as a formal means to document and address various issues related to employee performance. While it is generally advisable to engage in discussions with employees first to resolve minor infractions and minor performance issues, there are instances where immediate write-ups may be warranted for more serious problems or major violations.
Bad Examples of Using Write-Up Forms
A few examples of how you should not use a write-up form include:
- For minor infractions with no previous verbal warning to the employee
- To complain about personal grievances or issues
- When the employee is still in training and may not understand they are committing an error
Good Examples of Using Write-Up Forms
A write-up form is helpful and appropriate in the right circumstances, including when an employee:
- Starts work late or misses work habitually
- Uses their cell phone for personal calls excessively
- Dresses inappropriately
- Produces work that is consistently low-quality
- Breaches a company policy of which they are aware
- Fails to follow safety procedures
- Acts inappropriately with other employees or customers
How To Write Up an Employee
Conducting an employee write-up is a crucial responsibility, even though it may not always be comfortable. This formal documentation conveys to employees that their behavior must improve while providing employers with essential records for future actions.
While write-up forms for employees often suffice to prompt behavior change, it also plays a pivotal role in subsequent disciplinary or termination proceedings. Adhering to the following steps can help to manage employees and expertly handle write-ups with professionalism and authority.
Step 1 – Issue a Verbal or Written Warning (For a First Offense)
You should issue a verbal or written warning first. A quick discussion with an employee is often enough to fix the problem. Your employee may be unaware that they are doing something wrong, even if it seems evident to you. A clear discussion about guidelines and expectations allows employees to shape and fix their performance.
A verbal or written warning demonstrates your reasonable efforts to avoid formal discipline when appropriate. This can be helpful later if you need to terminate an employee or if you go to court over employee interactions.
Step 2 – Wait Until You Are Calm
Never do a write-up in the heat of the moment or while you are still upset about the issue. The formal write-up should not come across as an attack or denigration of your employee. When calm, you will likely write more reasonable warnings that reflect an objective assessment.
Formal write-ups are common evidence in later court cases, should they arise. If your write-up seems emotional or designed to harm an employee wrongfully, this could hurt your case.
Step 3 – Consult HR
Consult your human resources (HR) supervisor or department before you issue a formal write-up. HR understands company policies and applicable employment laws that may affect your write-up. Consulting HR also shows that you have carefully considered this write-up and documents your efforts to follow a professional course of action.
Your HR professional may also have a prior record of offenses or other write-ups for this employee. This is valuable information for your current write-up and document events leading to this warning or disciplinary action.
Step 4 – Document the Issues or Violations
Your write-up template should make it easy to document the issues or violations. It should describe the problematic behavior with details such as:
- What problematic conduct occurred
- The date and time the conduct occurred, if known
- What harm the action caused
- Information on a pattern of inappropriate behavior, such as consistent tardiness on specific days
State the problems objectively. Avoid language that adds a personal spin to the situation. For example, instead of writing: “Leslie is incredibly lazy and sits around doing nothing,” instead say, “Leslie consistently failed to clean her workstation and complete assigned tasks over the last six months.” Specificity and objectivity are crucial in a solid write-up.
Step 5 – Refer to Company Policies
Always back up your complaints by referencing specific company policies. For example, refer to an attendance policy when writing up an employee for consistent tardiness. Reference to a company policy shows that you are setting reasonable guidelines for the behavior you expect. It provides powerful support in later disputes with employees.
Step 6 – Include Witness Statements
Add witness statements whenever possible, especially if the issue was raised by someone else. Supervisors often perform write-ups, but that supervisor may not have seen the incident or every instance of misconduct. Include a direct statement from someone who did see the violation.
Step 7 – Set Clear Expectations
The write-up should include a clear description of the problematic behavior, your expectations for the future, and the potential consequences for any further infractions. Set a timeline for when you will review the employee’s performance.
Reasons To Write Up an Employee
There are many reasons you may need to write up an employee:
An employee may have one bad day, and a quick warning can take care of that problem attitude. For others, however, continued rude behavior to customers, fellow employees, or even supervisors requires a formal write-up.
When writing up an employee for rude behavior, include the following:
- The problematic behavior
- Examples of when the rude behavior took place
- Actions previously taken to address the rude behavior
- Expectations for future behavior and consequences for failure to meet these expectations
Employees often react poorly when they are told their behavior is unacceptable. Speak with your HR representative about how to best approach this situation. Have someone else in the room when you meet with the employee so there’s a witness to your interactions.
Poor Work Performance
You need employees to perform their work and perform it well. You have certain expectations that should result in consequences for the employee if they aren’t fulfilled. Poor performance may mean:
- Failure to complete assigned tasks
- Performing tasks to the bare minimum
- Creating products of inferior quality
- Failure to meet specific performance metrics
The employee may not realize their work is subpar. Informal communication to help them improve is the best first step. If this doesn’t fix the problem, a formal write-up for poor work performance may help motivate the employee to improve. If that doesn’t work, you have the documentation to discipline or terminate the employee.
You set work policies and procedures for a reason. Some help protect fellow employees’ safety, and some are even mandated by law. Failure to follow these policies could cause problems within your business and even lead to legal liability.
Ensure your employee knows the policy they are violating before you start a formal write-up. A previous warning makes clear that a write-up is appropriate for continued non-compliance.
Poor attendance is one of the most frustrating problems employers face. Many workers think nothing of showing up late or calling off simply because they do not feel like working. Some fail to call in, leaving you without necessary workers at critical times.
Keep a record of when an employee is late, absent, or has other issues with attendance. When you are ready for a formal write-up, include all this information. Attendance problems may be critical evidence if you need to terminate employment.
An employee’s refusal to follow directions or obey reasonable requests can cause severe conflicts in the workplace and even undermine authority if not appropriately handled.
An insubordination write-up should include the following:
- The employee’s name and identifying information
- Details of when and where the insubordination took place
- What request or order was made to the employee
- The disciplinary action being taken
- A plan for improvement
Employee Write-Up vs. Disciplinary Action
Below, you can see a comparison of an employee write-up and disciplinary action:
|Employee Write-Up||Disciplinary Action|
|Definition||A formal document that details an employee's misconduct or poor performance, often asking for the employee's acknowledgment.||A broader range of steps a company might take in response to an employee's repeated misconduct or poor performance.|
|Purpose||To inform the employee of their poor performance or misconduct, allow them to correct it, and formally document the issue.||To correct the behavior, enforce workplace rules, and maintain a productive, safe, and fair work environment.|
|Examples||Detailed document about performance issue, policy violation, or misconduct.||Additional training, probation, demotion, suspension, termination.|
|Place in Process||Often the first step in a formal disciplinary process.||Implemented if initial warnings or write-ups do not lead to improved behavior.|
|Impact on Employee||Generally a wake-up call to improve behavior or performance.||Can have significant consequences, including job loss.|
|Documentation and Acknowledgment||Usually includes a description of the issue, the relevant company policies, an improvement plan, and requires the employee's signature.||Depending on the action taken (like a performance improvement plan) may also require documentation.|
HR Best Practices to Conduct an Employee Write-Up
Follow these best practices for a more effective write-up:
- Conduct an initial performance discussion
- Adhere to and reference company policies and procedures
- Address specific concerns about the employee and be direct about the expectations for the future.
- Give examples of what the employee can do to improve and avoid future write-ups.
- Set a clear timeline for the employee so they know how long they have to improve and when you will reassess their work performance.
- Explain consequences
- Allow the employee to respond
- Main confidentiality
- Have your employee sign the write-up and the agreement
How To Conduct a Performance Discussion?
A performance review is essential before resorting to formal written input when addressing employee performance issues. Well-conducted performance reviews help clarify expectations, provide constructive feedback, and motivate employees to improve their performance. Follow these best practices to ensure a productive and effective performance review.
Timings and settings
Choose a convenient time and private setting for the conversation to ensure focus and confidentiality.
Collect relevant information and examples of performance issues to bring up during the discussion.
To create a positive atmosphere, recognize your employees’ strengths and accomplishments.
Address your concerns
Use “I” statements to articulate performance concerns and avoid personal attacks. Use specific examples to illustrate areas for improvement.
Discuss the cause
Investigate the root causes of performance issues and identify possible solutions.
Work together to develop an action plan
Develop a clear and measurable action plan with employee participation and approval.
Provide resources, training, and ongoing support to help the employee improve.
Document your discussion
Note key points, action steps, and commitments for future reference and consistency.
Next Steps After an Employee Write-Up
After issuing an employee write-up form, it is vital to take the following steps to ensure proper follow-up and maintain a positive working environment.
Keep a copy of the form in the employee’s personnel file for future reference and to document the incident and the actions taken.
Schedule follow-up calls with employees to check their progress and address concerns or questions.
Provide support and resources to help employees meet the expectations in the write-up. This may include additional training, mentoring, or guidance to improve skills and performance.
Evaluate employee performance and behavior regularly to meet the expected standards consistently. Consistency is vital to demonstrating their commitment to improving.
If the employee’s performance does not improve or further violations occur, the issue may need to be escalated to senior management or HR. Discuss the appropriate steps to take to handle the situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
An employee write-up form is a formal tool for employers to address and meticulously document any concerns or issues about an employee’s behavior, performance, or compliance with company policies. This written record holds significant importance as it enables employers to track an employee’s disciplinary history and plays a crucial role in determining future promotions or even potential terminations.
Write-ups are important for several reasons, including:
- Behavior correction: Write-ups allow employees to correct their behavior, promoting a better work culture focused on improvement rather than termination. This enhances employee retention and overall performance.
- Evidence and documentation: Write-ups are formal evidence of problematic behavior, poor performance, or non-compliance. They create a reliable history that justifies disciplinary actions or termination and can protect your business from legal challenges.
- Protection in legal matters: Properly documented write-ups are essential in defending against claims of harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination. They demonstrate just cause for disciplinary action, safeguarding your business in legal proceedings.
Yes, employees have the right to refuse to sign a write-up. However, it’s crucial to understand that their refusal does not nullify the write-up or its repercussions. When an employee declines to sign, it indicates their disagreement rather than an admission of guilt or acceptance of the documented concerns. It’s important for employers to document the refusal with a witness present, treating it as a form of employee misconduct.
Yes, employees can face disciplinary consequences, including being written up, for exhibiting disrespectful behavior within the workplace. Disrespectful behavior encompasses various actions, such as the use of offensive language, engaging in harassment, demonstrating insubordination, or engaging in conduct that disrupts a harmonious work environment. Employers want to maintain a positive and respectful workplace culture, necessitating addressing and documenting such instances.