How to Write Up an Employee Effectively in 2023

A hand filling out a form and the text: Employee write-ups.

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When it comes to being a successful employer, writing up an employee is part of the package. It can be difficult to know where to start. Discover some helpful strategies that will help you with it in 2023, from understanding the types of situations that require disciplinary action and creating a detailed document to considering other options for resolution.

As a manager, it is sometimes necessary to address an employee’s behavior or performance. This process is known as “writing up” an employee, and it can be difficult to write up an employee the right way. Writing up an employee is a process that requires careful consideration; to do it well requires practice.

Do you know what steps employers must take to create an effective employee write-up to ensure a healthy working environment in 2023? Find out below.

What is an employee write-up?

An employee write-up is a formal document that outlines an employee’s behavior or performance and the consequences of failing to correct that behavior.

The write-up serves as a record of the employee’s performance, helps employers maintain a healthy working environment, and protects both the employee and the organization against legal action.

An effective write-up should clearly state expectations and consequences for failure to meet those expectations. Employers must also take care to ensure that the write-up is fair, accurate, and properly documented.

Breakfast tray dumped on the floor, with coffee spilled everywhere.

Types of employee write-ups

There are three types of employee write-ups:

  • Verbal or oral warnings. A verbal warning is a brief but direct conversation in which an employer outlines the employee’s unacceptable behavior or poor performance and the consequences for failing to improve;
  • Written warnings. A written warning is a more formal document that states expectations and issues related to the specific problem. It should be precise and deliver the key message directly, not between the lines. If you find it difficult, visit writing services review websites such as Rated by Students to find a specialist to help you with this task;
  • Final notices. The final notice is a formal document that informs an employee that they have not improved and will face disciplinary action, such as suspension or termination if they fail to meet expectations again.

Reasons for writing up an employee

Two female office workers in a heated argument.

Employers frequently write up employees to document negative behavior and job performance issues. Examples include:

  • tardiness
  • unexplained absence
  • failure to complete assigned tasks
  • poor completion of tasks
  • arguing with coworkers
  • poor attitude on the job

This type of documentation assists employers in maintaining a healthy working environment, protecting both the employee and the organization from legal action, and providing guidance for future expectations.

Typically, performance expectations are outlined in the employee handbook. Employers may also use written warnings to encourage employees to improve. The employee write up form may contain a section with a plan for improvement.

How has the pandemic changed employee write-ups?

An employee in a restaurant kitchen, cleaning up after a spill.

In the post-pandemic world, employers have generally become more lenient with their employees, especially in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Something that would have resulted in immediate termination three years ago may now only receive a written warning, instead.

Why the change in expectations? Managers have had to adjust their disciplinary strategies due to a shortage of available help. New hires often don’t have industry experience or may be completely new to their roles. Thus, managers in 2023 may need to switch to a carrot approach where before they would have used a stick.

Instead of expecting job applicants to have years of experience, employers should be willing to consider less experienced candidates and be more forgiving of mistakes. It’s also a good idea to view mistakes as teaching and coaching moments.

In short, employee turnover is costly, and finding a replacement may be more difficult (and expensive) than providing training and support.

How to write up an employee: a step-by-step guide

Example of an employee disciplinary action form used at a workplace.

The following guide will provide you with a step-by-step approach to help ensure that the task of writing up an employee is done correctly:

Step 1. Prepare in advance

Before you even begin writing up an employee, take some time to prepare yourself for the task at hand. Make sure you have a copy of your company’s employee write up form ready. Review it beforehand.

Gather any relevant documentation and notes you may have regarding the situation and make sure that your facts are accurate and complete.

Also, consider any potential solutions for the issue, so that you can discuss potential remedies with the employee during your meeting. 

Step 2. Hold the meeting

A frazzled-looking employee during an employee write-up meeting.

Once you have prepared in advance, it is time to hold your meeting with the employee in question.

Begin by explaining why you are having this meeting and be as specific as possible about what is being addressed. For example, if the employee’s behavior is negatively impacting other members of the team, explain how.

Try to remain calm and professional throughout the conversation, and allow the employee ample opportunity to respond to each point made during your discussion. Allow the employee to exhibit emotional vulnerability and encourage them to be honest with you. Be empathetic and keep an open mind.

Make sure to document important points for later reference.

Step 3. Write up the employee

Finally, it’s time to write up your employee using all of the information gathered from your meeting and preparation phase prior. How you write up the employee will depend on the form, but here are some general tips:

  • Start by summarizing the problem or issues at hand in just one sentence or two. Try not to go into too much detail here if there are other sections where more detail can be given if needed. Using employee performance software will make it easier to show records and discuss the details if it is a work matter.
  • Next, you should explain what rules were violated (if any) and provide evidence/examples of how they were broken, and any negative behaviors displayed by the employee concerning this incident(s).
  • Lastly, outline any corrective actions taken or proposed going forward such as additional training or disciplinary action if applicable.

Also, double-check your material to ensure that there are no typos and that it will not confuse the employee. If proofreading and editing are not your strong suits, visit Top Writing Reviews’ writing services review website to find the professional you need.

What should be included in a write-up?

An employee cleaning up a dangerous drink spill on the sidewalk.

A write-up should include:

  • The dates and times of the incident(s);
  • A detailed description of the employee’s behavior or performance;
  • Relevant evidence (for example, emails, reports, or performance reviews).

It should also outline expectations and potential disciplinary action if those expectations are not met.

Finally, it should include signatures from both parties to ensure they understand and agree to the terms of the write-up. Employees should acknowledge that they understand the correct behavior moving forward and that they received corrective feedback.

By including all these elements, employers can ensure that their written warnings are effective and legally compliant.

Steps to take after writing up an employee

A button on a keyboard that reads "employee training" as an option.

Once an employee has been written up, the employer needs to follow additional steps to ensure that the employee understands the consequences of their actions. These steps can include further disciplinary action.

For example, suspension or termination if necessary, a performance improvement plan, and/or offering support services to help employees improve their behavior or performance.

It is also important to review the employee’s progress regularly and provide feedback. By demonstrating a commitment to improvement, employers can create an environment where employees feel supported and encouraged to succeed.

The employee should also be given a copy of the written warning for their records. This will help them understand any expectations or disciplinary action that will be taken if they don’t improve their behavior or performance.

Additionally, the HR department should keep a copy of the written warning in their personnel files to ensure that a paper trail is properly maintained. Following these steps will help ensure that both parties are adequately protected and can help create a healthy working environment for all.

Employee write-ups are never easy

Writing up an employee is never easy, but when done correctly, it can be quite effective in addressing issues within a workplace environment quickly and efficiently.

By following the steps outlined above, managers should now have a better understanding of how to go about writing up employees effectively so that everyone involved can move forward productively together.

For further reading, check out this guide to effective employee management.

About the author

Nancy Howard

Nancy P. Howard has been working as a journalist at the online magazine in London for a year. She is also a professional writer in such topics as blogging, HR and marketing.

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