When an employee violates policy, one of two things is generally happening. Either they haven’t been trained correctly on that policy or they’re choosing not to follow it. And the response to those two situations is very different.
If an employee violates policy, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions before taking any action. Do you think they understand the policy? What’s keeping them from coming into compliance with the policy? Have they demonstrated that they don’t ever plan to follow the policy?
The first step in dealing with any policy violation is to have a conversation with the employee, and it’s best to have that conversation as soon as possible after becoming aware of a policy violation. The longer you let it continue, the more you’re saying to that employee and others that it’s okay to violate policy. By not addressing it, you’re supporting the bad behavior, and everyone in your company sees that.
Managers often shy away from having those conversations because they’re concerned about the time it will take or are worried about the what ifs in the situation. What if they get mad? What if they quit? What if they say they’ll do better and then don’t?
When you don’t have the necessary conversations about policy violations, you’re creating a bigger negative impact on your organization and the people who are following policy. And that can result in losing good employees.
Any conversations you have with employees about policy violations should be documented, as documentation helps protect your company if you ultimately terminate the employee. It shows a history of failure to follow policy and that the employee was given an opportunity to improve.
That process should be outlined in your company handbook so that everyone knows what will happen in response to policy violations. If a conversation with an employee indicates that they weren’t aware of the policy or had questions about it, additional conversation or training can help bring them into full compliance with the policy. But if they simply refuse to follow it, that should begin the process to document infractions and terminate the employee.
Yes, these can be difficult conversations sometimes, but they’re important for the ongoing success of your organization.
If you need help developing your process for responding to policy violations, contact Why HR today for more information about our consulting services.