Discipline is something that we have all experienced personally in different forms, seen used on others, and is also something that many of us will go on to use later in life, both in the form of self-discipline and as something to keep children and even employees in check. It is essential to life as we know it, and we need it in its many different forms in many different situations.
The first reason that discipline is so important is that we all need to exercise self-discipline to be successful in life. Self-discipline can mean very different things to different people; for students, for example, self-discipline is often about motivating yourself and making yourself concentrate on your studies and get your assignments in on time. For working people, it can be as simple as getting up on time every morning, however tired you may be and how much you may hate your job, getting to work on time and doing your job. Without this kind of self-discipline, people would not be able to enjoy academic success, or be successful in their careers either.
Self-discipline is also required for dieters and anyone doing regular exercise, because given the chance, most of us would prefer to be lazy rather than get up and exercise, and eat burgers and fries rather than healthy food. Without it, even more people would be fat and unhealthy, and a lack of self-discipline in some people certainly contributes to the obesity crisis.
Discipline is also something that needs to be used on others where necessary. If parents didn’t discipline their children when they were naughty, children wouldn’t grow up knowing right from wrong, or be able to become productive members of society who contribute to the system. Equally, schoolteachers need to be able to dish out punishments to children who don’t behave themselves. Without discipline in the classroom, there would be a great deal of disruption and nobody would ever learn anything. Indeed, teachers who struggle to command the respect of students and who fail to use discipline effectively will often have trouble even making themselves heard in a classroom.
In the workplace, discipline is also essential to maintaining a hierarchy and dealing with employees who do not follow company policies and procedures, regularly arrive late or not at all, or treat their co-workers unfairly. Then, you have to consider that without discipline, there would be no law enforcement. Murderers would be roaming the streets and everybody would be stealing from each other, because there would be no consequences for their actions.
Discipline acts as a vital deterrent to stop children being naughty, people from missing work, and even potential criminals from stealing and killing, and for this reason it is vital in human society.
Employers have a great deal of responsibility in maintaining a productive and satisfied workforce. The human resources department is your most important resource in managing employment policies that strengthen the employer-employee relationship. During the course of operating a business there will be challenges. However, you can minimize the impact of employee disciplinary issues by understanding the cause and how to correct them. The Texas C-Bar says this about employee disciplinary issues: "Consistent and fair procedures, honest communication, and clear expectations are the key to improving employee performance and morale when an employer has to discipline an employee for misconduct."
Attendance and Punctuality
All employers expect their employees to be at work, on time and ready to be productive workers. Attendance and punctuality can be a challenge for employees for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to time management. Employer leniency can contribute to the problems associated with attendance. Implement an attendance policy. Employees need guidelines and an attendance policy provides the parameters within which employees must work. Many companies implement a "no-fault" attendance policy which means an absence is an absence, regardless of how justifiable the absence may be. For a small business this type of attendance policy could be too rigid and inflexible, however. Consider your employees' schedules, family obligations and need for flexibility when developing an attendance policy. Importantly, decide what type of disciplinary action is appropriate for excessive absenteeism or tardiness.
Violation of Company Rules
Most employers have policies that address the possession and use of illegal drugs, substances and weapons in the workplace. The safety of workers is at stake when employees are in possession of unlawful items. In addition to developing a policy against employees having illegal drugs and other substances or weapons in the workplace, a business should also implement a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. Policies of this nature need to be addressed in employee meetings to stress the importance of zero-tolerance. Zero-tolerance in terms of disciplinary action means the possession or use of prohibited substances and weapons is a terminable offense. All of your employees should acknowledge receipt of this policy to eliminate any claims related to knowledge of the policy should the need for you to terminate an employee for this offense arise.
Low Productivity or Insubordination
These are types of employee disciplinary issues that deserve careful consideration of what causes an employee's productivity to drop, or why an employee has become insubordinate. The cause of low productivity may be attributable to a number of reasons: lack of experience, misunderstanding job expectations, or absence of tools necessary to complete the work. In cases of low productivity, the supervisor or manager should address her concerns with the employee in a private conference. Showing concern for the employee's work record and helping resolve the problem can be a motivating factor when an employee is experiencing problems on the job. In cases involving insubordination, this too should be addressed privately and in a non-accusatory manner, where the employee can feel free to explain the reasons why she refuses to perform the job, or why she may be uncomfortable performing the duties of the job.
About the Author
Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
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