It’s so important to remember that performance problems should be documented as soon as they happen. Even though it may cause some discomfort it’s vital to make sure you discuss the problem with the employee. Being open with employees in this way helps against any wrongful termination claims that employees could possibly make.
Many employers believe that since they employ people using the concept of employment at will that they won’t be impacted by a lawsuit. The flaw in that belief is that if there’s no documentation of termination reasons then the fired employee and their legal assistance will find an illegal reason to explain to the jury. At-will employment may give you the right to terminate employees without good cause, but it’s an ambiguous and dangerous stance.
There are other reasons besides legal ones to discuss and document performance and behavioral issues with immediacy. When you take care of those problems early on employees are able to grow and improve their performance and behavior. Taking care of problematic behavior quickly has a lot of benefits.
Here are just a few:
- They can’t learn from their mistakes if they don’t know they’re making them. Many employees may not realize that what they’re doing is an issue until they’re being terminated. Being upfront about behavioral issues allows employees to improve and it reduces the cost of turnover.
- Employees avoid being in trouble. Once an employee is aware that what they’re doing is a problem most of the time they will want to fix it immediately to avoid having another discussion and possible termination. If you find that’s not true about a particular employee then addressing problems promptly will help you realize that your company might not be the best place for them.
- Documenting problems shows the seriousness of the issue. Speaking to an employee about an issue is one way to go about reprimanding them, but when they know something is going in their file they will most likely take it more seriously.
- Your employees will take notice. If you remain consistent in the way you handle issues then employees will take notice. As long as you maintain the same style of approach for each issue you’ll be able to foster a culture of accountability.
Overall, having documentation regarding behavioral and performance issues will serve you better by allowing you to encourage better performance, reduce turnover costs, and it will cover you in the chance that a terminated employee should threaten to sue.