Whether you’re about to give an employee performance review or investigate a harassment claim, how you document is important. Documenting employee actions provides necessary support for a number of workplace decisions: pay increase, termination, suspension, promotion, etc. Proper documentation helps you make better decisions for your company and your workforce. A good written account may also reduce your risk of legal liability.
Here are four things to not forget when putting things down on paper:
All employer documents have the potential to be at the center of an employee complaint or lawsuit. Knowing this, it’s best to use as many specifics as possible—so that if a third-party reads the document, they know exactly what has happened. Include all parties involved, exactly when and where the event happened and how you intervened.
Once you’ve given a performance review or dealt with a complaint, you should document the details while they’re still fresh in your head. You could lose crucial details even waiting just a few days after the incident occurred. Make the document work for you instead of against you.
Because your documents have the possibility of reaching a courtroom, being as clear as you can be will work in your favor. For example, if you have poor handwriting, type up your document. If you are unsure about an incident, don’t lie or embellish—say that you are unsure. Honesty and a good effort will help you.
Treat all employees equally. If you are going to write someone up for blatantly disobeying a policy, you have to write up everyone who breaks that same rule. Same goes for a positive example—praise employees when they deserve it and mark it on their performance reviews. If you don’t follow this rule, you could get slapped with a discrimination suit, especially if your documents can’t clear your name.
For guidance on documenting specific circumstances, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.
Photo Source: Victor1558