Note on Employee Discipline and Disciplinary Action

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Employee Discipline



Discipline is a quality that employee of an organization shows in terms of behavior. Discipline is needed for effective human resource management. Organization is formed by designing a structure of employees from the top level to bottom level. Each level needs people with discipline for effective operation of an organization. Discipline regulates employee's behavior. Acceptable behavior in a certain order line is needed by the organization from each employee. Discipline is a condition prevailing among the employee with respect to rules and regulation of an organization.

According to the Decenzo and Robbins." Discipline is a condition in an organization when employees conduct themselves in accordance with the organization's rules and standards of acceptable behavior."

According to Garry Dessler," Discipline is a procedure that corrects or punishes subordinates because a rule or procedure has been violated".


Importance of discipline

  • Discipline is crucial for the smooth running of an organization.
  • A disciplined workforce can meet the difficulties and make contribution in achieving the organizational goals in a better way.
  • It helps to build strong and good relationship among the employees in the organization
  • Discipline infers the obscene of anomaly, disarray, issue and confusion in human conduct and exercises.

Types of Disciplinary problems

Due to the difference in religion, language, culture, living style etc of the employees, it creates the disciplinary problems for the management. By covering overall areas of an organization where employees expose their behavior by regarding discipline is divided into four types. First, organization needs self-discipline from employees but always it does not happen and then several disciplinary problems take place. Those problems are discussed below:

Attendance related problems: Not attending regularly is a disciplinary problem. It is a great problem for the organization. This is called due to disputes between peers or management. Disciplinary problem causes when management cannot understand employees and their individual problems then it may cause employees to remain absent.Unattractive pay attendance related problems. These problems are tardiness ( being lazy, not doing work), unexcused absence, failure to report, driving late for work, accidental injury, abuse of sick leave and leaving without permission.

On the job behavior related problem: Unwilling and unaccepted behavior shown by employees on the job is another disciplinary problem. Dissatisfied, who do not like change and close to rude person show unaccepted behavior on the job or it can also be the negative behaviors that are shown by the employees within their organization at working place is disciplinary problem. Job-related problems are gross insubordination, carrying a concealed weapon, attacking others, intoxicated on the job, failure to obey safety rules, defective work, sleeping on the job, failure to report accident, loafing(sitting idle), gambling, fighting, arrival at work drunk, horse play(making too much noise in work time) and malicious destruction of organizational property.

Dishonesty related problems: Lying and stealing is dishonesty. Stealing, selling off the company property, destruction of the company property, presenting false information of employee's record, concealing defective work and destructive or subversive activity etc. are result of dishonesty. Dishonest employees harm the whole environment of the organization and make the organization unsuccessful.

Outside activities: Organization leads to increase its reputation through the good discipline of employees inside as well as outside the organization. Employees discipline outside the organization is very critical. Outside disciplinary problems are unauthorized strike activities, outside criminal activities, wages garnishment, working for competing company and criticizing management in public.

General guidelines for administrating discipline

Discipline is must for an organizational success.Human resource management needs to encourage employees to behave in the way that makes sense of work. Human resource manager should manage discipline for effective operation of an organization. Discipline is likewise crucial for keeping up a chain of importance and managing representatives who don't take after organization arrangements and techniques, routinely arrive late or not in any manner, or treat their collaborators unfairly. So, general guidelines for administrating discipline are explained below:

Make disciplinary action, corrective rather than punitive (punishment): Action for improving discipline should be corrective. It is to be done positively and should be able to improve their habit for leading organization in right path. Convincing and giving suggestion in making small mistake is first step for improving discipline. Self-discipline is the best discipline of the employees.

Discipline should be progressive: Maintain discipline in the organization is must essential by long-term perspective. It should be progressive by aiming at achieving goal of human resource management. Disciplinary action should be in such a way that it should be able to lead the organization in a head way through the positive effort of all people of the organization. Disciplinary action is oral warning, written warning, suspension, demotion, dismissal. Dismissal action should be taken for the most serious violation of discipline. It shouldn't be taken for the first offense. It should be situational. This type of disciplinary action should depend on the severity as well as the frequency of the disciplinary action.

Follow the hot stove rule: Follow the hot stove rule is immediate action taking rule. Hot stove rule comprises disciplinary action should be fair. and should be impersonal. The warning should be given in advance.

Allow employee to give explanation: Discipline can be violated due to various reasons. Such reasons should be correctly identified. So, employee should listen before initiating disciplinary action. They should be allowed to explain the reason of discipline violation. The employee should be given an opportunity to explain his/her position before the disciplinary action is initiated. He/she should be patiently heard.

Causes of employee disciplinary problem

Behavioral issues in the work environment call for administrators to make a move to guarantee that the issue is contained and cured. The significance of discipline in the organization can't be underestimated, since productivity, employee morale and even organization benefit can be adversely influenced. A positive methodology may resolve an issue before it compounds; however, discipline ought to be utilized deliberately by taking after organization strategy while respecting the worker's rights.Various causes of employee disciplinary problem are:

Mismanagement: Poorly managed activities in an organization is mismanagement. A mismanaged operation fails to achieve its goals, is extremely wasteful and is generally indicative of administrative procedures that are not well thought out and directed.

Distraction: Distraction is dividing attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention into like sources of distraction. It is caused by lack of ability to pay attention, lack of interest in the object of attention.

Outside forces: Pressure that arises from outside is unsystematic. External forces refer to market prices for raw material supplies, consumer demand for the company's finished products, government regulation.

Process of disciplinary action

Employee discipline is the situation in which everyone follows the rules, regulation, and procedures of the organization. A disciplined workforce can meet the difficulties of the organizations and contribute to the organizational targets better. Discipline is a minimum standard of acceptable behavior. A process of disciplinary action in logical step is shown as follows;

Oral warning: Orally giving suggestion not to violate discipline is oral warning. It provides chance to the employee to explain. Manager and employee agree about solution to prevent it from recurring. Warning given to an employee is recorded in employee's life. An oral warning is the warning where managers warn the employee's behavior personally (face to face). It is the first step of disciplinary action. The employee who violates discipline, rules and regulations of the organization is reprimanded orally in private and informal environment

Written warning: Written warning is the first formal disciplinary action. Warning is given to those employees formally in written form who violates discipline. A file is prepared for keeping the record of employee's action. It reminds employee time and again. It is a formal disciplinary process where a letter sent to the employee and another copy is filled in employee's personal life. Written warning must include committee mistakes, its cause, and effect, its adverse consequences to the organization etc.

Suspension: The employee is prohibited from performing the task assigned to him/her. It is a process of making the employee free from a job as punishment. It can be one day or several weeks or a year with out pay. It makes employee rude if management can not be able to manage indiscipline for standards of acceptable behavior. It depends on the degree of violation. Suspension provided a rude awakening to problem employees.

Pay-cut: Pay cut is disciplinary action in which employees pay is cut rather than additional pay. It has a demoralizing effect on the employee. It's an appropriate way to warn employee to correct his behavior.

Demotion: Reducing promotional opportunity and grade is a demotion. It's a drop from the current title or position to lower grading job. Transferring to remote and rural area cutting additional benefits by lowering responsibilities are examples of demotion.

Dismissal: Ultimate disciplinary action taken by management is called dismissal. It is the last step of disciplinary action. It covers up the theft, misconduct, drug abuse, falsification of information, unemployment application, lack of required qualification and job elimination. It is involuntary termination of employment. It is costly and can have adverse effect on other employees.




Lepak, D., & Gowan, M. (2010). Human resource management: Training and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

Development of human resources -- Part 2. (2013, 8 18). Retrieved from


  • Discipline is needed for effective human resource management. Organization is formed by designing a structure of employees from the top level to bottom level.
  • Self-discipline is the best discipline where employees willingly accept to rules and acceptable standards of behavior.
  • Discipline is needed to maintain the organizational peace by minimizing possible disputes.
  • Not attending regularly is a disciplinary problem.
  • The unwilling and unaccepted behavior is shown by employees on the job in the organization is disciplinary problem.
  • Organizational leads to increase its reputation through the good discipline of employees inside as well as outside the organization.

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