Employee Discipline 101


How to write up an employee:

Writing a letter of reprimand for an employee that’s failing to perform is a difficult task for many HR professionals. It’s often tough to achieve the balance of objectivity and feedback that’s required for effective employee performance management.

Learning how to effective write up an employee is one of the most important skills anyone in a supervisory or management role can learn. Clear, constructive feedback from a manager to an employee can, in many cases, help to fix performance issues.

If your business is experiencing an issue with employee performance that’s affecting the company as a whole or producing suboptimal results, it’s important to provide a letter of reprimand that explains the problem and provides constructive feedback.

In this guide, we’ll share five techniques that you can use to write up employees in a more effective, constructive manner with the end goal of improving performance in your company’s workforce.

Clearly explain the problem and how it affects company performance. 

The better your employee’s understanding of the problem, the easier it is for them to change their behavior. At the beginning of your written letter, clearly explain the problem that an employee’s behavior is creating for your company.

Provide as much detail as is required for the employee to complement understand how their behavior is problematic. If the problem affects your company as a whole, explain why and how it affects the company.

The more detail you can provide to an employee of how their behavior is affecting your company or other people, the better their understanding will be and the easier it will become for them to change the way they behave at work.

Explain the effect of the problem on the workplace and other employees. 

Problems with employee behavior rarely affect one person in isolation – it’s much more common for them to affect several employees. Explain the effect that an issue is having on other employees and how it affects your workplace as a whole.

This is particularly important if the employee’s behavior was brought to your HR department’s attention by other employees. Employees are often unaware of the effects their behavior can have on the other people that they work with.

It’s important that you don’t provide unnecessary information about people that are upset by an employee’s behavior, as this can cause unnecessary negative feelings or hostility. Simply explain how the employee’s behavior affects other employees.

Provide constructive feedback to help the employee fix the problem. 

There are two goals to writing up an employee. The first is to clearly explain how an employee’s behavior is problematic, The second is to provide constructive feedback that helps the employee fix the problem and prevent it from affecting others again.

In your letter, provide constructive feedback to help the employee fix the problem and improve their performance. This feedback should be concrete and actionable, with specific examples of ways the employee can improve their performance.

Sometimes, employees behave incorrectly simply because they’re unaware of how their behavior affects others. Providing constructive feedback is often all it takes to get an employee to significantly improve their workplace behavior.

Offer a chance for the employee to be re-evaluated in the future.

After being written up, many employees become concerned that their past problems could hang over their head for the rest of their career. This can make the process of improving their behavior and conduct significantly more difficult.

In addition to providing constructive feedback on how an employee can improve, it’s important that your letter inform employees that – in the event that their conduct or behavior improves – they could potentially be re-evaluated in the future.

If you believe it’s appropriate, you can provide a timeline outlining the amount of time an employee has to improve their conduct. This can give employees a higher level of motivation to improve their behavior and excel in the workplace.

State what will happen if the problem or issues continue or worsen. 

In addition to explaining how an employee can improve their conduct, it’s important that your letter explains what will happen to an employee if their problem continues or, in a worst case scenario, if it worsens.

Be clear in outlining the consequences of an employee’s poor performance and how it will affect the company as a whole. It’s important that an employee is completely aware of what will happen if their conduct or performance doesn’t improve.

If an employee has a history or poor performance or inappropriate conduct, this can be mentioned as a justification for any consequences they may face in order to make it clear that failing to improve their actions could lead to further disciplinary action.