Handling and responding to employee misconduct can be a very stressful situation for an HR professional. However, following a consistent procedure can help the process go smoothly and can help you avoid further problems.

Strategies for Handling Employee Misconduct

The following seven tips can provide guidance for establishing a company policy for dealing with employee misconduct.

  • Gather all the facts about the incident: Taking the time to talk to all relevant information will lead to good disciplinary decisions and may prevent future litigation. When interviewing employees or witnesses, it is always a good idea to have two people in the room.
  • Use investigatory suspensions: When investigating an incident, consider placing an employee on leave, with or without pay (depending on the circumstances). During this time, employees will be relieved of all job duties until a full investigation has been completed.
  • Don’t make termination decisions alone: When making an employment termination decision, involve human resources or a senior member of management. This internal review will ensure consistent discipline and minimize the risk of a discrimination claim.
  • Keep the situation in context with the employee’s history: Weigh the offense in the context of the employee’s overall record. The disciplinary measure will likely be fairer. If it is the employee’s first incident of misconduct, consequences will often be less severe than if it was the same employee’s sixth incident of misconduct.
  • Deal with situations as soon as possible: Waiting to respond to a disciplinary concern may raise questions about your motive. If the discipline is severe, it’s undermined by the employer’s delay in responding or may prompt questions as to the real motive behind the discipline. Make sure that you are disciplining consistently. The longer you wait, the more likely you will not discipline altogether.
  • Keep your goals in mind when disciplining: Remember that the intent is to correct the misconduct and modify the behavior, not to punish the employee for wrongdoing.
  • Maintain all documentation related to the incident: Should the disciplinary decision come into question, you will be thankful you’ve kept copies of interview transcripts, bits of evidence and anything else that backs up your decision.

Feel free to reach out to us to seek assistance with any workplace guidance. We look forward to supporting your needs and contributing to the success of your organization.