Warning an Employee via Email: Examples and Tips

    Why Email?

    In the current business environment where email is fast becoming the preferred official tool of communication, mastering the skills to pass messages across to your employees with it is vital. There are many ways of communicating your displeasure to an employee that has been found wanting one way or the other. These include a face-to-face chat, phone call, and body language. However, warning an employee via email remains one of the most potent and official ways of doing this.

    The email has remained powerful for several reasons. When you send an email, there will be an automatic record of the communication. Hence, your documentation is safely stored. They can be used in the future for references and legal reasons. Using the email as a means of official communication also saves money for companies. They will spend less on stationaries and postages. It is important to note these points to bring to perspective why we dwell so much on how to communicate effectively via email.

    Warning an Employee via Email

    warning-employee-via-emailAs an employer or manager, there will be times that an employee may need stern caution to help him or her get back in line. It will interest you to know that warning an employee via email is a formal and effective way to get your message across in a firm way. If such an employee decides not to change after repeated warnings, the emails you have sent can be presented to make a case for him or her to be fired. Remember that they have been safely stored in the cloud and can be retrieved and used to show the employee’s track record of misconduct.

    Issuing warnings to misbehaving subordinates are vital for the growth of any business. If a bad conduct is not sternly addressed on time it can spread among the workers and greatly impair productivity. Therefore, it is a means of bringing order and enforcing discipline at work. It is very effective if it is done appropriately. When it is misused, hardworking and productive employees may be lost as a result.

    Before Warning an Employee via Email

    warning a staff memberAs noted earlier on, using the email for communication is formal. This implies that it is weightier than a verbal warning and carries more consequences. Therefore, before warning an employee via email, consider verbal warnings. Some employees will adjust when you do this. Hence, you do not need to get these warnings on the record because they can affect the employees’ promotion and future employment.

    Also, warning an employee via email may not always be the ideal way to persuade the employee to change. This may sound strange, but the truth is that if your company has a policy of randomly issuing warnings, it will kill the morale of your staff, then you will breed disgruntled employees who will take out their frustrations on their jobs.

    Never be in a haste to issue out warnings to your subordinate. Weigh every action on individual demerit. If you must, then when warning an employee via email avoid treating him or her like the others that had received similar warnings. Handle every case and everyone based on the uniqueness of the case and the person. You do not give warnings the same way to a senior manager that you would to a front desk officer. This is unprofessional and may end up reducing the productivity of the senior manager.

    Finally, before warning an employee via email, you will need to be sure on how to go about it, In order words, you need to gather your thoughts and determine what exactly you want to write and the level of impact you need it to have to achieve your desired result.

    Guide to Warning an Employee via Email

    Identify the Misconduct

    The very first thing to do before warning an employee via email is to identify the offense. This is not as simple as it sounds. In an office where there may be competition and rivalry, you as the employer or manager need to be sure of the reports reaching you. Colleagues may turn on each other and report things that may be true or false. However, if you witnessed an act of misconduct or if a subordinate clearly ridicules your instructions, then it is easier to decide how to go about things.

    The point here is that as much as you can, be certain of the facts. Do not jump at warning a hardworking employee just because a colleague or even his direct superior reported a misconduct. You may be causing more harm than good if you do not tread this path gently. However, after getting the facts, you will need to take the next step before issuing the warning.

    Identify the Individual

    We mentioned above that you should not issue warnings the same way for a senior officer in an organization like you would for a junior person. This is vital for several reasons. Because of his or her position, a senior officer or supervisor has influence over people, hence, has the loyalty of some employees. Whereas a junior officer has little or minimal influence and commands little or no loyalty. If the direct subordinates of a loved and hardworking senior officer perceive that he or she is being treated unfairly, you will soon start dealing with disloyalty among them.

    Unduly breeding bad blood between you and a senior officer will neither do you nor the company any good. This will certainly affect the productivity of the company. Instead of a warning, consider face-to-face chats to address misconducts of senior personnel. However, if your multiple face-to-face chats and verbal warnings fail, do not hesitate with issuing official warnings via email. Remember to follow your company’s guide for issuing warnings.

    Writing Your Email

    Your email should be professionally written. When warning an employee via email, bear in mind that it is an official document. This means that it is a formal email. Observe all the important rules and guidelines for writing a business email. Let us see other key points.

    Other Key Points

    Ensure that the email subject line is clear. It should convey the message within the body of the email. This will help get the attention of the receiver.

    Warning emails carry very short opening salutations. The messages are written directly. There is no place for long pleasantries when warning an employee via email. You just go straight to the point.

    The body of the message should be direct and brief. Present the employee’s offense, then demand an explanation for his or her action, noting that he or she should state why no disciplinary action should be meted out. There is usually a time limit given for the person to respond.

    Unfortunately, when warning an employee via email, there is no room for recounting the employee’s past excellent deeds. The closing is also rather short. There no formalities. A simple “Thank You” at the end will do. Then put your signature at the end.

    Warning an Employee via Email; Multiple Warnings

    In a situation in which an employee commits repeated misconduct, consider firing him or her. Why allow your company to go down the drain because of someone's error. We have earlier stressed the fact that everyone should be given a fair chance. However, this does not mean you should allow people to destroy your company with their misbehavior. In general, follow your organization’s policy on this matter and ensure that the right thing is done.

    Guide to Warning an Employee via Email; Failure to Respond

    If the employee did not respond to your email, it could be one of many factors. It is possible that the person is not aware of the fact that you sent an email. He or she may not have checked his or her email. Or may have checked, but your email went into the spam or junk mail. No matter the reason, the simplest solution is to inform the subordinate by phone or verbally that you have sent an email.

    When an employee does not reply because of sheer insubordination, consider firing the person or following the laid down protocols in your company.

    In Conclusion

    Warning an employee via email may not be a pleasant action. But in the world we live in, people need this at times to keep them in the right perspective. It is an art that you need. Getting it right will yield great results and missing it, may be damaging for your company.

    Sample Email 1: Warning an Employee via Email

    (Senior Personnel)

    Subject Line: Query; Explain Your Frequent Lateness

    Good day, Mr Bailey,

    Your frequent lateness has been noticed by the management and it has started affecting the junior workers' attitude to work.

    Explain within 72 hours why the management should not mete out a penalty for your actions.

    Thank you.

    Emmanuel Gibbins

    Human Resource Manager, Charity & Charles Foundation


    Sample Email 2: Warning an Employee via Email

    (Junior Personnel)

    Subject Line: Warning; Explain Your Negligence to Duty!


    Your negligence to duty today led to a major damage to the flour mixer at the bakery.

    Explain within 24 hours why an immediate disciplinary action should not be taken against you.

    James Trevor

    Bakery Supervisor, Pleasant Confectioneries LLC


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    Dr. Kelechi Duru
    Dr. Kelechi Duru
    Dr. Kelechi Duru is a physician with a keen interest in healthcare administration and business management. And yes, he rather writes about business than the latest clinical trials. He enjoys building castles in the air with his wife (they currently live in one) and has a wild fascination for nature.

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