Skip to Content

2021 W2s and Form 1095s Are Now Available In Your Employee Self Service Portal.

How To Write Up An Employee For Poor Performance: Samples and Best Practices

How To Write Up An Employee For Poor Performance: Samples and Best Practices

There are plenty of exciting aspects of running a business – disciplining employees is not one of them. Although unpleasant, poor work performance write-ups are a necessary tool for any organization.

A letter of reprimand serves as both a tool for correction and a compliance document. The problem is that it’s not always obvious how to write up an employee for poor performance. This post will explain what you need to include in your write-ups and best practices for delivering effective reprimands.

What To Include In A Reprimand Letter

There are a variety of elements that you should address for employee performance write-ups. The Society for Human Resource Management recommends including the following elements in a reprimand letter.

  • The name(s) of the person writing the warning, the person receiving the warning, and any individuals who will receive a copy.
  • The date the warning was delivered.
  • A statement that clearly describes the performance or conduct issue(s) that resulted in an official warning.
  • A summary of previous discussions about the issue (with dates, if possible) and other related disciplinary or performance issues.
  • An explanation of why the issue is important to the company and which policies were violated.
  • An outline of the employer’s expectations, along with a timeline and goals to show measurable improvement if necessary.
  • The potential consequences if the employee doesn’t meet those expectations, such as further discipline or termination.
  • A note that the warning will be added to the employee’s personnel file.
  • Space for the employee and manager to sign the document (with an optional space for employees to add their own comments regarding the reprimand).

An Employee Write-Up Sample For Poor Performance

The following example of a write-up for poor performance is a basic template that businesses can modify to suit their exact situation.

To: [Name of employee]

From: [Name of manager]

Date: [Date the warning is given]

Re: Written Reprimand

This letter is to inform you that your performance is not meeting the expected requirements for your position. You are officially failing to perform for the following reason(s).

  • [List how the employee isn’t performing up to expectations]

Based on [policy or performance requirement], you are failing to meet your performance measurements for your job despite [list previous communication or training efforts]. These performance requirements [describe how poor performance impacts the company and the rest of your employees].

As a result, you will be required to [list an outline of employer expectations, along with timelines for meeting those goals]. If we do not see these improvements, additional disciplinary action will occur up to and including termination of employment. This letter will be added to your personnel file.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

[Name and title of manager]

[Names and titles of HR staff and anyone else receiving a copy of the reprimand letter]

[Space for signatures and comments from the employee]

A manager meeting with an employee after delivering a reprimand letter.

Best Practices For Employee Reprimands

Having a template for employee write-ups is a good start, but there are plenty more factors that employers and managers need to consider regarding reprimands. Use the following best practices to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts.

Address the situation before you need a letter

Unless an employee does something serious enough that warrants an immediate write-up, it’s best to address the problem directly with them first. Try to have a friendly discussion or send them an informal email to address any issues. Starting with a verbal warning will give the employee a chance to answer concerns and rectify the issue before it gets to an official reprimand.

Document the problem

The more information you have, the better prepared you are should an employee file a lawsuit or take any other actions against your company. Keep a record of your interactions with the employee regarding performance or conduct issues, including every conversation or email, before you write a reprimand letter. These actions will make it clear that the employee was aware of the problems and well-informed about the reasons for any discipline or termination.

Include other perspectives and statements if possible

While a manager or supervisor may take the lead in writing up an employee, they’re not the only person who can contribute to an official reprimand. Include any statements made by other employees who have raised concerns or have witnessed issues. Ensure that these statements are factual observations – opinions won’t work for official reprimands.

Focus on improvement instead of highlighting what’s wrong

The more detailed and specific you are about setting expectations for improvement, the better. The average employee isn’t afraid of receiving corrective feedback – in fact, 72% of employees think that this form of feedback would improve their performance. The key is that this feedback needs to be delivered in an effective way.

It’s important to be honest with the employee about their performance issues and position future expectations as a positive. For example, a performance improvement plan is a commitment to helping an employee improve. Stay calm, positive, and focus on the benefits instead of dwelling on frustrations.

Deliver reprimands in person

Employees should hear their official written warning directly from their manager or supervisor. In this meeting, you can share your concerns and provide specifics about their performance. By delivering the news in person, you can also field questions from them and have them sign the warning letter for your records.

Embrace Employee Performance Management

Between employee write-ups and performance reviews, there are plenty of ways that you can maximize your employees’ efforts. The problem is that dedicated employee performance management takes a lot of time and energy for employers.

GMS helps business owners get the most out of their employees while saving them time. Our experts can take on the administrative burdens associated with hiring, managing, and terminating employees while you focus on other important responsibilities. Contact GMS today to see how we can strengthen your business through employee management and more.



Return to Blog