A reprimand issued in any form does not speak well in the records of any employee. Therefore, as an employee, reprimanding an employee via email should be avoided as much as possible. As a manager or employer, do not be in a haste to issue one. Always ensure that it is absolutely necessary and the only option left to solve the performance lapses of an employee.

However, the act of reprimanding an employee is a key part of running a successful business. If an employee keeps underperforming after several official verbal corrections or warnings, it may just be right to issue a strong reprimand. This is meant to help the employee amend his or her ways. Reprimanding an employee via email can get the desired results you hope for.

Benefits of Reprimanding an Employee via Email

Reprimanding an employee via email gives the manager a couple of advantages. The main one is the fact that the reprimand is stored safely. Communicating via email is a good way to ensure that your conversations are stored properly. It can be retrieved easily in the future for legal or other important reasons.

Another advantage of reprimanding an employee via email is the way the reprimand will be received by the employee. Although issuing an official warning to an employee is considered formal, using an email will make it more “friendly” or one may say less harsh. The reprimand email is meant to be stern, however, it should be seen as coming from a friend and not an enemy. This will make the employee receive the corrections with a better attitude, increasing the chance of him or her changing.

The other advantages of reprimanding an employee via email include the ease of sending an email over writing a letter (saving money from not using paper or ink) and the fact that you can send the email at any time. Besides these, the email is fast becoming the popular way of communicating with employees; therefore it is just right to embrace it.

Key Components of a Reprimand Email

When reprimanding an employee via email, the email usually addresses specific performance-related issues involving the employee. It also specifies consequences if the employee’s performance does not get better. The usual structure for reprimanding an employee via email is outlined below.

Clearly Explain the Performance Issues

The email should have an unambiguous report of the performance problems that the employee needs to work on immediately. It should cite instances of the employee’s shortcomings and how this can be improved on to meet up with the performance expectations of the company. This will help the employee have a graphic image of what is expected of him or her.


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State the Impact on the Company

When reprimanding an employee via email, it is very important to inform the employee of the negative impact that his or her performance is having on the overall productivity of the company. A good analysis can be provided to show this fact. It is not enough to just mention that the employee’s underperformance is affecting the organization; the employee needs to see this plainly. For instance, a financial report from the employee’s department may be attached to the email.

Provide Timelines if Necessary

If it is applicable, a clear timeline may be provided in which the employee has to improve his or her performance. A date may be provided for the employee’s performance to be reassessed by the supervisor or manager. Better still, the supervisor or manager can state a start and end date in which a definitive reassessment of the employee’s performance would be made.

Provide an Opportunity for the Employee to Respond

The email must mention that the employee is allowed to express his or her opinion. This provides the opportunity for the employee to concur, differ or show regret for his or her actions. It also serves as a proof that the employee received and read the reprimand email. The entire conversation should preferably be stored as a single thread (this is achieved by the employee using the reply button).

Important Considerations

Reprimanding an employee, especially when there are associated consequences, has regulatory and legal implications. The employment regulations governing the locality of the company must be duly observed. An aggrieved employee may take the company to court especially if the reprimand ends in job termination.

When reprimanding an employee via email, remember to copy the human resources manager and the managing director or chief executive officer and any other relevant company official. This is very important. It ensures that the relevant people in management know what is going on, and also absolve yourself of unnecessary blame because of the underperformance of a subordinate.

Email Sample: Reprimanding an Employee via Email

Subject Line: Reprimand

This is to inform you that your performance is below what is expected of you in the company. Your primary duty as a business development assistant is to assist the business development manager in implementing approved business marketing models approved by the management. By implication, you are meant to be in the frontline in ensuring clients support and satisfaction.

You have underperformed in the following ways:

You have only managed to support 45% of the clients assigned to you in the past one month. The remaining clients were handled by your colleagues. The minimum acceptable standard set by the management is 90%, a realistic figure.

According to our survey, 80% of those you attended to did not receive adequate support and/or felt dissatisfied with your services. Compare this with the acceptable average of only 20%.  

You can clearly see that based on the expected standards, you are grossly underperforming. As your supervisor, I provided well-organized training sessions for you and others who had been performing below par. And I had also repeatedly issued official verbal warnings to you. We have come to the conclusion that you are not ready to perform. Your actions are weighing heavily on your colleagues, hence affecting the overall productivity of the company.

The management demands that you improve your performance immediately. If this does not happen by the next assessment phase coming up in 28 days, severe disciplinary actions will be meted out to you, including the possibility of appointment termination.

We believe that you have what it takes to meet up with your responsibilities. Therefore we demand that you start living up to them. 

Please feel free to make any clarifications you deem necessary. 

Thank you. 

Julian Rupert

Supervisor

cc: Human Resources Manager 

cc: Managing Director

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