If you’re a manager or the head of your own business, then you know that there are times where you’ll see those employees who haven’t exactly been meeting up with your company’s standards or there are those employees who have caused problems that should be addressed as soon as possible.
So if you’re having this problem, then what you should do is draft a warning letter that you’re going to send out to these employees. With the warning letter, you’ll be able to point out the reason why the employee has received it as well as the consequences in the event that the employee does not improve or shape up his or her behavior.
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How to Know When It’s Time to Give an Employee a Written Warning
Although there are some people who find writing this type of letter to be unpleasant, there will come a time when it’s absolutely necessary. Think of the warning as a written notice to the employee wherein it states that he or she has breached company policy. It’s a way to ensure order within the company as well as giving the employee a chance to correct whatever mistakes or problems that he or she has. However, you’ll need to know when and if you’re supposed to hand these types of letters to an employee. So here are a few steps that should be able to help you out in doing so:
- You must follow the usual progression of handing out warnings. If you’re going to hand out a warning to an employee, then you’ll know that there’s always a certain type of escalation or progression when it’s being issued. By sticking to it, you can help the employee understand the level of discipline that he or she is currently undertaking and the severity of the issue that’s going to be discussed. The warning progression usually starts with you giving the employee a verbal warning. Then if the problem persists, you may proceed to send out the written warning. If the employee still has not improved or is still causing problems, then you may send out the final written warning. If the employee has yet to change after the final written warning, then you may send a letter of termination to state that the employee may no longer continue employment.
- Before you can even issue the warning letter to the employee, you’re going to have to consult with your company’s disciplinary code. Go over the code and make sure that your decision for issuing the written warning is justifiable. You’re going to want to match the severity of the issue in the disciplinary code before you send the letter. Go through the code to give you a reference that will help you decide if the employee has done something that deserves a warning letter to be issued or if the problem is something that simply requires for you to give a verbal warning instead. So if it’s something like an employee threatening another coworker, then the issue is serious enough for you to write the warning letter.
- You’ll need to gather all of the information you can get regarding the issue. With all of the information in your hands, you’ll be able to judge if it’s required for you to make the written warning or not. You’ll also need the information to help you make a detailed explanation as to why you’re writing the letter in the first place, as well as making sure that the employee fully understands why he or she is receiving the letter. So you should get an information report that should contain the date and times of the employee’s infractions, details regarding any conversations or previous verbal warnings about the problem the employee is facing, and any old documents that the employee has signed that shows that the employee has accepted the company’s terms as well as the consequences for violating any of them.
- The next step will be for you to talk with the employee in a private location. You’ll want to do it in a private area because employees would feel rather uncomfortable if you do it where others can overhear, and it will ruin your image by making employees think that you’re a type of boss that would humiliate employees if they’ve done something wrong. This meeting will allow you to further understand the situation as you can discuss the problem with the employee as well as letting the employee give his or her own comments regarding the situation. The conversation may just reveal new information that could show that it was just a misunderstanding and that no further action needs to be taken. On the other hand, it may also provide you with new information that could increase the severity of the problem. This can help you decide whether you should issue the warning to the employee or not. It may also allow you to terminate the employee on the spot if the problem has become more serious than you initially thought.
- The final step would be for you to determine whether or not you should be the one that should issue the warning. If it’s a large organization, then it may be unclear as to who should be the person that can issue the written warning to the employee, especially in the event that the employee has more than one supervisor or manager. If you decide that you are going to be the one that’s going to issue the warning, then make sure to go through the company policy to help you make sure that you are able to or that you are the one that’s required to and/or deliver the warning to the employee. Generally, it’s usually the direct supervisor or even the chief executive officer who would issue the letter, and in some cases, the decision as to who should issue the warning letter is discussed in a group meeting.
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How to Create and Issue the Warning Letter
Once you’re able to determine that the employee should receive a warning letter based on his or her actions and/or behavior, then the next thing you’re going to have to do is to create the letter and issue it to make sure that employee understands the severity of his or her situation. So here are the steps that should help you in making and issuing the warning letter:
- Once you start creating the letter, you’ll need to provide the necessary information. Although different companies and organizations have different requirements, there are going to be some common elements that you’re going to want to include within your own written warning. The basic components of a warning letter are the names of the parties that are involved, the nature of the offense, the date and time of when the offense occurred, and the details of the warning. It’s also best to include instructions that will tell the employee how he or she can fix the situation, as well as the consequences of the employee’s current infractions and the consequences of any other future issues.
- When you’re creating the letter, you’re going to have to be as specific as possible. You’ll need to include all of the details regarding the issue the employee is currently facing. Make sure that these details are as clear and concise as possible so that the employee will understand what corrections he or she has to make and to let the employee know how to avoid offenses in the future. So let’s say that a certain employee has been constantly bullying another coworker over his religion, you’ll then want to create a letter regarding the issue. A good way would be to write something such as “On August 5th, you were reported by multiple witnesses by verbally harassing another coworker over his religion.” You should then make it clear as to what will happen if the employee continues the behavior, so you can say something such as “If another infraction occurs, then there will be no choice but for use to issue a final written warning before termination.”
- Once you have made the written warning, you’ll then want to deliver it in person. While the warning may be written, you’re not going to be sending it via e-mail or through company mail. As mentioned before, you’re going to want to have a private discussion with the employee where you can hand out the warning personally to the employee. If there are still things that are unclear, then having a conversation with the employee will help you decide whether you should give the letter or not. It’s set a date for the meeting during both you and the employee’s earliest convenience.
- After you have written the warning and handed it over to the employee, then you’ll have to be sure that he or she understands the purpose of the warning. Discuss with the employee the terms of the warning, the duration, and why the employee is receiving it and what he or she can do to correct the problem. There are multiple reasons as to why the employee should receive the warning. It can be anything from poor employee performance or the employee may have gone against company terms and policies. Either way, you’ll want to be sure to properly explain it in your letter as well as in your discussion with the employee during your private meeting. You’ll want to make sure that your written warning has a space where the employee can place his or her signature to show that he or she has understood and agreed the purpose of warning.