Workplace discipline is central to the smooth functioning of an organization.
Discipline encourages employees to behave in a proper and acceptable manner, and adhere to the rules and regulations of the company.
It doesn’t mean, however, that employees should comply out of fear.
An effective discipline program focuses on the positive actions the organization requires from its employees, so the latter understand how they should behave in the workplace. It also highlights the importance of employees' role in contributing to the success of the organization.
These are the key factors that establish strong workplace discipline:
Developing company policies is a shared task of the human resource department, management, and executives. The aim is to provide standardized company rules and regulations.
Workplace policies should be:
- Clear and relevant. They should apply to the organization, not just a copycat version of another company’s employee handbook.
- Attainable and realistic. The policies can be successfully implemented. They also have to make sense.
- Properly communicated or endorsed. Employees need to be aware of these policies so they can hold themselves accountable.
- Accessible. Employees need to go through the code of conduct during onboarding and at least once a year.
A company’s code of conduct should define which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable, and state the consequences of violating the policy. Lastly, it must be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Implementing Disciplinary Actions
Organizations should maintain zero-tolerance for violating their policies. It’s important to be fair at all times and ensure consistency in implementing disciplinary actions. These include monitoring time and attendance, along with productivity and efficiency of employees.
Here are some other ways to ensure consistent application of disciplinary actions:
- No discrimination. Employees must be treated equally in the sense that disciplinary measures should be taken when they break a rule.
However, it doesn’t mean that the sanction will be the same. For example, an employee who has been in the company for five years with an unblemished record may receive an appropriate warning for being absent for three consecutive days while an employee who is just five weeks in service might be dismissed.
- Keep proper records of sanctions that have been issued.
- Inform employees that need to undergo disciplinary actions and conduct a proper investigation.
- Ensure that those in charge of applying disciplinary actions are fully aware of the policies violated so they can act fairly on each case.
Effective communication between managers and their team members is central to creating a culture of discipline in the workplace.
Positive discipline is geared towards helping employees progress and ultimately, succeed in their roles. Thus, managers should provide timely feedback to address growing concerns that can lead to disciplinary action later on.
For example, arriving at work late frequently can trigger disciplinary action. Early intervention should help an employee improve his or her performance.
However, feedback needs to be a two-way conversation to fully understand the cause of a performance issue and help the employee find the most appropriate solution to address it.
Managers as “Listeners”
Listening skills enable managers to understand their team and build a strong relationship with them. When employees feel they are heard, they begin to trust their leaders. More importantly, they feel more motivated to strive for their best.
Active listening skills also encourage employees to be more open about their feelings and intentions. In turn, managers can easily help them address performance issues and improve their stats over time.
Listening is a skill, and it’s crucial during performance discussions. It can be difficult to engage in two-way feedback when the manager doesn’t seem to care about what his employee has to say.
Healthy Work Culture
A workplace with a healthy culture is one where employees feel valued, comfortable, and safe. It’s one where they are not afraid to make mistakes because managers and leaders understand that failures lead to big successes and innovations. Most importantly, a healthy work culture offers opportunities for growth.
Research can confirm that happy employees are productive employees. They also tend to be more cooperative, motivated, accountable, and less likely to break company rules and policies.
Here are some important tips for creating a healthy work culture:
- Increase employee engagement. Research shows that engaged employees are 40% less likely to incur absenteeism.
- Allow for workday flexibility. It allows employees to maintain a work-life balance, which in turn boosts their performance at work.
- Improve communication with employees. Managers should check in often with their team and talk about their goals and successes. They should be available not only when employees have questions or concerns, but also to support them in overcoming work-related problems.
- Build a strong employee reputation. Creating an environment where employees have a sense of purpose doesn’t only promote productivity and engagement, but it also helps foster a healthy workplace culture.
New managers need to develop new skills to become efficient with their tasks. Additionally, they need to make use of new tools and techniques to perform their management duties, particularly, motivating and keeping their teams organized. They should also prioritize developing clear policies and ensuring that they are applied fairly and consistently among their teams.
Defining a strong workplace discipline requires several essential skills, such as communication and active listening. Managers should invest in creating a healthy workplace culture so employees become more accountable, productive, and highly engaged.