The following procedure is provided to establish a clear direction for resolving problems concerning an employee’s substandard performance. A nurse, Susie, has shown the lack of acceptable work performance and chronically unsatisfactory results that prevent her from maintaining job standards. When necessary, our medical establishment reserves the right to charge a disciplinary action against employees who willingly violate established organizational rules (Traynor, Stone, Cook, Gould, & Maben, 2014). Disciplinary measures include:
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- Initial counseling
- Oral warning for minor offenses
- Written warning for more severe violations
- Suspension without pay as a means to demonstrate the insufficiency of previous warnings
Initial counseling was used as the first step in correcting the nurse’s unacceptable behavior. The supervisor nurse reviewed the pertinent facts with the employee and made a reprimand regarding Susie’s complaints about other workers and poor performance on September 14. The fact of ill performance was brought to the supervisor nurse’s attention on September 15 by Helen, a charge nurse. The occurrence of violations, however, did not stop at that stage. On September 16, two other employees, Fred and Cindy, brought another issue to the supervisor’s attention stating that Susie’s low performance was still evident. Based on their report, the second step was taken, and Susie was given an oral warning. Both the current unacceptable behavior and the employee’s past performance were considered and closely discussed. The case was documented by the supervisor in the employee’s file. Probation was postponed on the condition that there would be no further violations.
A report provided by a charge nurse, Helen, on October 1 showed that Susie was still barely performing her work duties. A charge nurse insisted that Susie was not getting along with the team members and that stricter punishment procedure was therefore required. The supervisor then moved to the third step of disciplinary action: the written warning. The warning clearly stated the safety policy that was violated and the measures that the employee must take to return to standard performance. The procedure was documented following the existing standards of work for medical units.
Another issue was observed on October 2, when two employees, Fred and Cindy, reported Susie had not been performing her tasks the night before. The issue led to an immediate reaction, and the nurse was subject to the fourth stage of disciplinary action: suspension without pay. The supervisor nurse, Helen, placed the employee on probationary status subject to dismissal. However, the measures that were taken still appeared to be insufficient to improve the nurse’s behavior. The occurrence that took place on October 10, when Susie quarreled with her teammate, Charlie, led the supervisor nurse to take the measure of last resort. Thus, the decision about the employee’s discharge was made on October 10, based on repeated misconduct, poor performance, and violation of the basic safety rules (Harcourt, Hannay, & Lam, 2013).
The example above demonstrates that strict punitive measures are sometimes the only means to resort to when dealing with systematic violations. The corrective measures should follow an infraction as soon as possible to demonstrate a company’s intolerance for disobedience and the consequences it may lead to. The measures should, however, begin with the least severe. Skipping the steps leading up to an employee’s termination may result in employees’ voluntary dismissal due to the fear of being unjustly fired. Senior executives require that all no disciplinary action be taken without HR department involvement. This is done so that the HR department can monitor an employee’s performance during possible probation and, thus, make decisions on whether the termination procedure is reasonable or not.
Harcourt, M., Hannay, M., & Lam, H. (2013). Distributive justice, employment-at-will and just-cause dismissal. Journal of Business Ethics, 115(2), 311-325.
Traynor, M., Stone, K., Cook, H., Gould, D., & Maben, J. (2014). Disciplinary processes and the management of poor performance among UK nurses: Bad apple or systemic failure? A scoping study. Nursing Inquiry, 21(1), 51-58.