8 Tips for Effective Employee Offboarding & Disciplinary Action

Key points about employee offboarding and corrective action in the workplace:

  • Disciplining or offboarding employees can be uncomfortable.
  • If you stay consistent and follow other best practices, it’ll be easier to navigate these situations and avoid any legal risks.

Disciplining or terminating an employee can be a nerve-wracking experience for everyone involved. For employees, being disciplined or losing a job can be anything from moderately embarrassing to financially devastating. For employers and managers, balancing corrective action with courtesy and legal risks can also be difficult.

To avoid pitfalls and make corrective action more meaningful, check out the following tips.

8 Tips for Employee Offboarding & Disciplinary Action

1. Make sure everyone understands your employee offboarding and disciplinary policies

Everyone (especially those responsible for disciplining or offboarding employees) should understand your company policies. If your policies aren’t clear, your managers might enforce them inconsistently. When this happens, corrective action is subject to personal biases and may be unfair. 

In a worst-case scenario, this could even result in costly discrimination claims. Ensuring that everyone understands your policies can help reduce biases and legal risks.

2. Be consistent

Inconsistencies can lead to discrimination allegations. As such, you and your managers should follow consistent practices. Make sure everyone is using the same methods when disciplining and offboarding employees. Management meetings can be a good time to check in and ensure everyone’s on the same page.

3. Investigate allegations properly

Investigate allegations before you act on them. Sometimes, in a rush to correct a mistake or poor performance, managers will discipline an employee after hearing only one side of the story. 

For example, a restaurant customer might complain about rude service. If the manager terminates the server immediately, they won’t have the chance to hear what happened from the employee’s point of view. If employees don’t have the chance to explain themselves, they may feel resentment, fear, and distrust. The manager could also find themselves in an awkward situation if the offboarded employee can prove that the accusation against them was false.

4. Review written warnings

Direct managers often have firsthand knowledge of an employee’s infraction or poor performance. Because of this, they’re best suited to draft the written warning. However, HR can still review the warning to ensure that it’s:

  • Factual
  • Unemotional
  • Thorough
  • Clear
  • Tied to company policy
  • Consistent with previously given written warnings

5. Leave corrective action to a direct manager

Similarly, corrective action is best done by an employee’s direct manager. While corrective action is rarely a positive experience for employees, it’s more meaningful when it comes from someone they interact with on a daily basis. A manager can show that they’re invested in the employee’s success and willing to help them improve. 

If HR takes corrective action instead, the employee may feel like their manager doesn’t care about them or their performance. In some cases, your employees may begin to associate disciplinary action with your HR department. This can undermine your HR department’s ability to make positive, company-wide changes.

6. Use a witness when necessary

A witness can help document what happens during a disciplinary meeting and provide logistical details. Not every disciplinary meeting needs a witness, though. If it’s a minor issue or the first conversation about performance, a witness may not be necessary. A witness is most useful for meetings that are likely to escalate, either due to the nature of the issue or the temperament of the employee.

7. Stay courteous during employee offboarding

Fairness and courtesy can go a long way, even during offboarding. No offboarding meeting will be pleasant, but they’re often more unpleasant than they need to be. To improve the experience, be honest and clear about the reason for offboarding. Try not to rely on your status as an “at will” employer to avoid telling the employee why they’re being let go (they’ll generally assume the worst if you don’t). 

It’s also best to hold the meeting privately at the end of the day so that the employee can clean out their desk and exit the workplace without an audience. Whatever you can do to help them leave with their dignity intact will help prevent future issues with the now-former employee.

8. Don’t be afraid to take action

Sometimes, disciplinary action and offboarding can be in the employee’s best interest. After all, allowing bad behavior and poor performance to go unaddressed does them no favors. If an employee is unable or unwilling to improve, they’re not helping their teammates or themselves by staying at your organization. They might be happier and more successful somewhere else—and that’s okay!

How HR Software Can Help with Employee Offboarding & Disciplinary Action

An HRIS like SentricHR can help you stay transparent and consistent when disciplining and offboarding employees. With an HRIS, you can set clear performance indicators like goals and evaluations and then share them with your employees.

If your employees can monitor their performance in this way, you may not need to take as much corrective action. Your employees may see how they’re doing and improve their performance on their own before you need to step in.

For more information about how SentricHR can help, speak to one of our product experts.

Blog content provided in part by Sentric’s online HR Support Center. For more information, please reach out to our sales team.


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